Saturday, June 15, 2013


    Oh my gosh! the trip to Sitka, my first big trip of the season. The lake ice in interior Alaska did not go out till early June so we haven't had a chance to do much yet. We did take out the boat for a shake down cruise on the Tanana and everything worked fine.
    A friend of mine, Rick Schikora, had invited me down to Sitka to spend a few days on his boat the "e-FISH-ency" to fly fish for rock fish and other ocean stuff. My scheduled flight at 11:00AM wasn't able to land in Sitka due to fog, so I had to wait for the next flight at 11:30PM that night. Rick met me at the harbor and we slept in the boat. We rose at an early 4:00AM and headed to what Rick and his buddies call "Deer Camp", a two hour trip from Sitka. Seas were calm and the worthy "e-FISH-ency" cruised along at 30 miles per hour, the scenery and the two hours flew by. After reaching camp we did chores for a couple of hours and headed to check shrimp pots at 8:00AM.
Captain Rick emptying a shrimp pot
Almost 300 shrimp for the first pick, that's not bad

These are some of the biggest ones
After checking shrimp pots, we headed for the fishing grounds. The winds were a little high and the ocean was too choppy for fly fishing, so we opted to fish with traditional tackle. Here's the first fish to the boat, a Black Rock Fish.
Captain Rick was finally able to catch a fish, you'd think a guy with his own boat would be a better fisherman. I think he would tell a different story, but this isn't his blog. 

Then he caught another fish, this one's a China Rock Fish
Then he caught a Yellow Eye Rock Fish, you'd think the host would save a fish for the guest to catch, but noooo......o.

There's my first Quill Back, the fishing was actually fast and furious, these fish were all within the first few minutes.
My Ling Cod. We limited out on our ten pelagic and four non-pelagic rock fish in a fairly short amount of time so we moved to other locations to find different species.
Unable to find any other species and after having been bounced around in the ocean a while longer, we headed to camp, cleaned our fish and worked on chores till bed time at 12:00PM. This is the view from "Deer Camp"
We were here to fly fish, the problem was, neither one of us really knew how to do it in the ocean. We decided we needed to set up the boat so it would drift over fish-holding structure, cast a fly ahead of the boat and allow it to sink as the boat drifted toward the structure and the fly. Our hope was that the fly would sink the 100 feet or so we needed and be at a depth needed to tickle the tops of sunken islands as we drifted over them. The plan worked and this is the first hook-up.
It was a Black Rock Fish on a squid immitation of my own design.
It can be very satisfying when a plan comes together.
Next, a Dusky Rock fish on the same pattern.

And Rick caught a Dusky too. Soon, we had it down, we would position the boat for a drift, one of us would cast from the starboard side, and move down the boat to the stern with his sinking line to clear the starboard side for the other to cast. We would continue leap-frogging each other until we had left the structure, then re-position for another drift.
I wanted to try other patterns, here's a Black Rock Fish on a bait fish immitation.

We had just about caught a limit of Rock Fish on flies when the sea strarted to get rough again so we headed to shore to take care of the fish and some other camp chores. There's never a shortage of things to do at a remote camp.
We went out for the evening tide to fish for new species and we found some. Here's a Halbut on a squid pattern. He's not real big, even if I do push him way out in front of me. I told Rick "I might have to give myself an 'incomplete' on this one. He said, "No it is complete, you might put it down as 'needs improvement'." I'll buy that.

We hit another spot Rick knew of on the way back to Sitka in hopes of catching some Ling Cod on a fly. We didn't find any Ling Cod, but the fishing was good. Here's a Quil Back on a squid.

And another one.
This was the last fish of the trip, it's a pretty nice Black Rock Fish, sometimes called Black Sea Bass. It was a great trip, the weather was wonderful, the scenery terrific and the company was quite enjoyable. I had a ball, a great thanks to my buddy Rick. In my next post, I will show how I tied these flies. I'll tie some in weedless and articulated patterns. Thanks for looking.


  1. Those are some weird lookin' fish. Looks like a heckuva good time. :)

  2. Hi Amy, It was a great time. They are some weird looking fish, some people call them ugly but I think they're pretty. There are 32 species of Alaskan rock fish, many of them are brightly colored with wonderful patterns. In my next post I will try to remember to post a picture of them. Talk to you later.