Four of us recently returned from a six-day vacation/fishing trip to Sitka, Alaska with a ton of unforgettable memories.
Elaine and I, plus my fishing partners, Don Hettrick of Carson City and Rich Bachle of Fernley, had booked a three-day fishing trip for halibut and king salmon with Kingfisher Charters of Sitka.
It was my third trip with Kingfisher, Elaine's second and the first-ever for Hettrick and Bachle.
In addition, it was the first-ever trip to Alaska for Hettrick.
We flew into Sitka on June 21, went sightseeing on the 22nd, fished on the 23rd, 24th and 25th, and returned home on the 26th.
When you charter a fishing trip with Kingfisher Charters, you have the option of staying either at their lodge, about 5 miles out of town, or at the Best Western five-story hotel, Shee Atika, in downtown Sitka.
We stayed at the Shee Atika, where we enjoyed spectacular harbor views from our rooms, a great cocktail lounge and awesome dinners in their restaurant, including Calamari appetizers, entrees like halibut, salmon, filet mignon, top sirloin with dungeness crab and baby back ribs, plus wickedly delightful desserts. Not too shabby for being on a fishing trip.
How did we do fishing?
Well, for the record, we caught king salmon, silver salmon, pink salmon, chub salmon, halibut, yellow eye, dusky, vermilion, ling cod (they are big and ugly with lots of nasty-looking teeth), skate (it looks like a manta ray) and dog sharks.
In addition, while fishing, we saw humpback whales, sea lions, seals and otters. Some of the humpbacks were so close to our boat that you could clearly hear them when they spouted. And, when they lifted their tails and sounded, it was an awesome sight.
Most interesting to me, this year, overall for all the boats, the king salmon fishing was way below norm, while halibut fishing was way above norm. Odd but true.
The four of us fished on the 39-foot sport fishing boat, Kaiya, captained by 32-year-old Brian Oberreuter. He is an extremely knowledgeable, personable and friendly person, and Brian has been a highly successful sport fishing captain with Kingfisher Charters for five years.
The Kaiya is one of 20 sport fishing boats in the Kingfisher Charters fishing fleet. And, on any given day of the week (May-Sept.), you will find about 80 fishermen on those 20 boats somewhere out on the ocean.
The Kaiya has twin 225 horsepower Honda motors to get us to our fishing locations (30 miles out from Sitka), and a 30 horsepower Honda for trolling for the salmon.
We would leave each morning at 6 a.m. and return about 4:30 p.m. In our three days of fishing, the four of us caught 3 king salmon (one each for Elaine, Don and Rich), plus 30 silver salmon, 10 pink salmon, 1 chub salmon, 3 yellow eye, 1 dusky, 1 vermilion, 6 ling cod (which were released as their season was closed), 1 skate (a form of manta ray) and 5 dog sharks.
However, the mind-boggling news was our halibut catch, which was absolutely unbelievable.
We had the personal pleasure of experiencing a very rare "Grand Slam," where each of us caught a halibut weighing 100+ pounds.
With those big halibut, each of us qualified for the "100+ Pound Club" at Kingfisher Charters, and can wear those prestigious patches on our Kingfisher jackets.
Check this out: Our eight biggest halibut totaled 916 pounds, and that is not counting all of the other halibut that we caught. It's true!
Don Hettrick's two largest weighed 206 and 53 pounds, plus his 206 pounder qualified Don for the "200+ Pound Club"! Awesome!
Rich Bachle's two largest weighed 188 and 77 pounds.
Elaine's two largest weighed 148 and 62 pounds.
My two largest weighed in at 115 and 73 pounds.
Geez, my largest halibut was 115 pounds (the largest I have ever caught on all of my Alaska trips), and it was the runt of the four largest! Yipes!
The four of us returned to Nevada with a total of 11 fish boxes (each box weighed 50 pounds) of frozen fish fillets.
Would we return to Sitka again?
You bet, and in a heart beat. For the record, we have already booked our 2008 trip for the same dates, same Captain and same boat.
Finally, if you, too, would like to fish with Kingfisher Charters like we did, you can expect to spend roughly about $2,500 per person for round-trip air fare ($600) and the charter package ($1,900) of airport transfers, rooms, meals, 3-day fishing and processing of the fish.
And, be sure to take extra money for other things like souvenirs, gifts, cocktails, tips, bets, etc.
For information, either call Kingfisher Charters at (800) 727-6136 or visit their website at www.kingfisherscharters.com.
• Bet Your Favorite Pigeon
Bet your favorite pigeon that he can't tell you what the limit is on yellow eye in Alaska.
If he grins and say, "The limit is 1 yellow eye per day, 2 per year," he could have recently fished at Sitka.
• Don Quilici is the Outdoors Editor for the Nevada Appeal.