Four of us just returned, very late Tuesday evening, tired but very happy, with a ton of memories and photographs, from our six-day fishing and vacation trip to Sitka, Alaska.
Elaine and I, plus Don Hettrick and Chuck Van Hise, both of Carson City, had booked a three-day Halibut and King Salmon combination fishing trip with Kingfisher Charters of Sitka.
It was my fourth fishing trip with Kingfisher, Elaine's third, Hettrick's second and the very first trip of any kind to Alaska for Van Hise.
As we have done in past years, we flew into Sitka late on Day No. 1, went sightseeing and goofed off on Day No. 2, fished in the ocean on Day Nos. 3-4-5 and then flew home on Day No. 6.
When you charter a fishing trip with Kingfisher Charters, you have the option of either staying at their lodge, which is five miles out of town, or at the Westmark Shee Atika Hotel in downtown Sitka.
We stayed (as usual) at the hotel, where we enjoyed wandering around town, buying souvenirs of our trip, spectacular views from our rooms, a great cocktail lounge (whoever caught the largest fish of the day had to buy drinks on that particular day), and awesome dinners in the restaurant, including Calamari, Crab, Oysters, or Shrimp for appetizers, entrees like baby back ribs, Filet Mignon, Porterhouse pork chops, top sirloin with Dungeness Crab, plus wickedly delightful desserts of all kinds.
Not too shabby for being on a fishing trip! It sure beats going camping somewhere with those two troublemakers Norm Budden and Bob "Slick" McCulloch.
How did we do?
Well, for the record, between the four of us in our three days of fishing, we caught King Salmon, Silver Salmon, Pink Salmon, Halibut, Yelloweye, Ling Cod, Silver/Gray bottom fish and Sand Shark. In those three days, we were the most successful boat (each day!) of all of the sport fishing boats at Sitka. Yahoo!
Day No. 1:
Our first fishing day was short, but unforgettably wild and woolly, due to the bitter cold, rain, very strong winds (40 mph with higher gusts), white-capped seas and monster-sized swells.
The Kaiya was one of only 3-4 boats that ventured out to the Salmon fishing area (30 miles out), and while we were trying to catch our King Salmon for the day, the ocean looked like a scene from the TV show "The Deadliest Catch."
Elaine nailed the largest King of the year for the Kaiya, when she reeled in a 39-pounder.
We quickly caught our other three Salmon and then the Captain said we needed to return to the harbor, because the weather was getting too dangerous.
Many of the other boats either did not leave the harbor or went out and returned without fishing due to that nasty weather.
Day No. 2:
The weather was much nicer, and we all limited out with very nice King Salmon and Halibut.
Most impressively, we scored a very rare triple hook-up on King Salmon (the first of the year for the Kaiya) when Elaine, Don H and Chuck all had a Salmon on at the same time and landed it.
Day No. 3:
The weather was good and we hit the jackpot!
We caught our limits of King Salmon, Halibut and Yelloweye.
Elaine caught a Yelloweye, the largest ever caught on the Kaiya, and it was only 3 pounds under the Alaska State Record. Wow!
Don H. had a Ling Cod that weighed 55.5 pounds, the largest ever caught on the Kaiya.
For the day, we collectively caught a total of 19 Ling Cod that weighed 40-55 pounds, and they all had to be released, unharmed, as the season is closed on them at this time of the year.
Chuck caught a 100 pound halibut, the largest of the trip. Not too shabby for your first time in Alaska!
Don Q had the largest Silver Salmon of the trip, plus I also had the second largest Yelloweye (20 pounds) and the second largest Ling Cod (50 pounds).
We brought home:
We returned with a total of eight fish boxes, each filled with 50 pounds of frozen fillets. That's 400 pounds of fish dinners.
Our boat and Captain
The four of us fished on the sport fishing boat, Kaiya, captained by 33-year-old Brian Oberreuter. The Kaiya is 39 feet long, 11 feet wide, has twin 225 HP Honda motors to get us to our fishing areas and a 30 HP Honda for trolling for the King Salmon.
Oberreuter is an extremely knowledgeable fisherman with eight years experience with Kingfisher Charters, plus being a very friendly and personable person.
He is the same Captain that four of us had last year, when he guided us to an extremely rare "Grand Slam" of each person catching a Halibut in excess of 100 pounds.
Last year, Hettrick caught a 206 pounder, Rich Bachle (who could not go this year) caught an 188, Elaine caught a 148 and I had the "Runt" with 115 pounds (my biggest Halibut ever).
As we have done in past years, this year, we left the harbor each morning at 6 a.m., return at about 4:30 p.m., and in between, we would spend the day (except Day No. 1) fishing deep water (up to 400 feet deep), about 30 miles out in the ocean, toward Japan.
If you, too, would like to book a future fishing trip with Kingfisher Charters, just call them at (800) 727-6136 or go to their website at kingfishercharters.com.
And for the record, I get just as much a discount for recommending fishing with Kingfisher Charters as you do: Nada, Nil, Zip, Zero.
So, I'm not shilling for them, I am recommending a truly memorable fishing trip in Alaska.
Give it a try, you won't go wrong.
• Bet Your Favorite Pigeon
Bet your favorite pigeon he can't tell you what the daily limit for King Salmon and Yelloweye is at Sitka this year.
If he grins and say, "The daily limit is one King Salmon of any size and one Yelloweye of any size," he might have just returned from his very own fishing trip at Sitka.
• Don Quilici is the Outdoors editor for the Nevada Appeal