Back from Sitka, Alaska with lots of memories and lots of photos

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Last week, my son Jim and I returned from our King Salmon and Halibut fishing trip to Sitka, Alaska with lots of memories and lots of 8mm video, 35mm and digital photos of that visit to the Far North.

Here's some highlights:

On May 25, we flew on Alaska Airlines from Reno to Seattle to Ketchikan to Sitka.

Along the way, the spectacular sights of Mt. Shasta, Mt. St. Helen's, Mt. Hood, Mt. Rainier and the countless snow-capped peaks and mountain ranges of British Columbia and Alaska were all captured on film.

At the Sitka airport, we were met by members of Kingfisher Charters, the sport fishing company that we would be fishing with for three days.

They took us to the main lodge, located about five miles out of town, for an awesome "all-you-can-eat" dinner of Dunginess Crab with all the trimmings. It was a crab eater's dream come true! And, I would be remiss if I didn't tell you Jim had not one, not two, not three, but four before he ran out of room!

Four! Wow! There goes his diet!

After dinner, we got a ride back to the Westmark Shee Atika Hotel, where we stayed instead of at the out-of-town lodge.

The next day was spent sightseeing and photographing just about everything there is to see in Sitka (pop: 8,000).

There were two cruise ships (The Amsterdam and The Harmony) in the harbor, and as a result, there were many hundreds of tourists, just like us, enjoying all that Sitka has to offer.

This was also the day that Don Q bought all kinds of Sitka souvenirs (Sweat shirts, T-shirts, baseball caps, postcards, coffee mugs, key chains, refrigerator magnets, etc.)

Then, that night at the hotel's first-class restaurant, we enjoyed several cocktails and a Calamari appetizer, followed by a New York Steak with Prawns for me and a Macadamia-crusted Halibut Steak for Jim. How's that for "roughing" it on a fishing trip?

The next morning, we met our sport fishing guide, "C. J.", (AKA Clayton James Nellis) at 6 a.m. at his boat "The Chinook." It is 30 feet long, 10 feet wide, had a comfortable cabin and is powered by twin 140 HP Suzuki motors.

Two other anglers joined us for the day and the five of us headed out for our first fishing location, about 23 miles out in the ocean.

The weather was ominous-looking, with a brisk wind blowing, huge ocean swells, white caps, heavy overcast skies, spitting rain and raw cold.

Once we reached our fishing destination, we began to troll at a depth of 170 feet for King Salmon, with large "Hoochie Mama" lures plus a chunk of fish meat on the hook.

The boat was really rocking and rolling in the rough water, and it didn't take long for one of the other anglers to turn a funny-looking color and get seasick for the rest of the day.

The four of us quickly limited out with four King Salmon in the 30 pound class, and then, we were off for another location to fish for Halibut on the bottom at a depth of 400+ feet.

Wanna guess who caught the biggest Halibut of the day? Yep! It was poor, seasick Harold Ross of Seattle. He nailed a 179 pound Halibut, while busy "Chumming" over the side of the boat.

For the three days that Jim and I fished, we did very well.

Nothing spectacular but very nice fish. We caught all kinds of King Salmon, Silver (Coho) Salmon, Halibut, Yelloweye, Sea Bass and Flounder. Our largest King Salmon were all over 30 pounds and our largest Halibut were all over 50 pounds.

The good news was that when we left Monday morning (May 30) to fly back to Reno, we had four fish boxes, each full of 70 pounds of frozen Halibut, Yelloweye and Bass fillets and Salmon steaks. That's 280 pounds!

The bad news is that when we finally arrived in Reno, via Sitka, Juneau and Seattle, we were missing one fish box and one of Jim's luggage bags.

Geez, how in the heck can you loose a box full of fish?

They were located in Seattle, flown to Reno and then delivered to Jim's home, the next day.

Some of the fish was partially thawed and the luggage was damaged, but they made it back to Carson City. Whew!

Did Jim and I enjoy our 2005 Sitka, Alaska adventure?

Well, the answer to that question is the two of us are already busy, planning a return trip to Alaska sometime next year.

How about you? Have you got a trip to Alaska in your 2006 plans?

And, if not, why not?

• Bet Your Favorite Pigeon

Bet your favorite pigeon that he can't tell you the name of the world-famous church, with its onion dome and spire topped with a gold Russian cross, built by the Russians at Sitka.

If he grins and says, "It is St. Michael's Cathedral, dating back to the 1840's," he has been to Sitka.


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