Friday, January 3, 2014

Kodiak November 2013

My last trip of 2013 will be a combination fishing and hunting trip to Kodiak Island during the last two weeks of November. Planning to go are Mike and myself, my brother-in-law Mark and his friend Joe. We had put in for elk and brown bear permits, but were not successful in getting them, so we will be hunting for deer and ducks as well as fishing for both salt and fresh water species.

Mike and I prepared for the trip for most of the summer, our preparations included putting a hitch on his van and shortening it by 8 inches so we would be under 40 feet in total length. By being under 40 feet long we saved thirty percent off the $1,800.00 ferry fee. We also installed a marine radio and battery switch in my boat for safety. We repacked the bearings on the trailer, put new tires on it and rewired the lights. We put a windshield on the boat and installed mounts for the shrimp pot line hauler and a new prop.

Also in preparation, I tied flies.

I tied egg patterns...

flesh flies, bead-head-leaches and egg-sucking-leaches in hopes we would find some steelhead or dolly varden.

I tied shrimps...

crabs, sand lances and needle fish for ling-cod, rock fish and greenling.

For halibut, I tied white squids...

colorful squids...

some woven bait-fish patterns and...

these guys, they are herring imitations tied on size 14/0 hooks, they are weighted and measure 8 inches long.

On November 11th Mike and I left Fairbanks and headed for Kenai where we would spend the night and catch the ferry in Homer for the overnight trip to Kodiak on the 12th.

We launched the boat, my 16 foot Mercury dive and rescue boat, at Anton Larson bay on the morning of the 13th and headed out to establish a gas and gear cache at Onion bay on Rasberry Island.

We "dried-up" the boat while looking for a good camping spot in Onion Bay. I'm listening to the weather report on the marine radio here, due to high seas we stayed here till the morning of the 15th.

On the 15th we picked up Joe and Mark at the airport, but again the weather blew in and we had to spend two days in Kodiak waiting for the seas to calm. During that time, we shopped for last minute items, got licenses and fished for rock fish and greenling around Kodiak harbor. Here's Joe with a male kelp greenling caught on traditional gear. I think these are some of the prettiest fish. It was too rough and windy for fly fishing.

Brother Mark with a female kelp greenling.

A nice catch of Black Rockfish and Greenling. It was cold and blustery, but we still managed to have a great time.

On the 17th the marine radio was calling for calm seas till evening, we launched the boat and headed for Onion Bay. We were only a half hour out of the protection of Anton Larson bay and the waves started to build, I hoped we could make it, but a wave came over the bow and swamped the boat. Even when swamped the dive-rescue boat still floats high in the water. I turned the boat around and headed to shore. The boat was not going to sink, but the guys in the bow were unconvinced, "call the coast guard" and smidgens of the Lords Prayer were heard over the howling wind. The motor never quit and we were in sight of shore, so I motored over to the nearest good beach so we could wait out yet some more bad weather. Here we are warming up around the fire on Craig Point. Our camp was fairly comfortable, we had good tents, sleeping bags and every thing we needed, after two days the weather cleared. I took Joe and most of the gear to Onion Bay, the sea was like glass so we made good time. At Onion Bay we met a local fisherman that gave us a lot of good information about the area. We decided to have a look at Viekoda Bay and we liked the looks of the country there and found an old cabin we thought we might use. The wind and bears had torn the door off and it needed some other fixing up but it looked like it would be comfortable. We left a cache there and headed back to camp at Craig Point about 20 miles away. The sea was flat and the boat ran nicely, we were back in just a little over an hour.

 On the morning of the 20th, with a lighter boat, we headed out in an attempt to make it to camp, but once again shortly after we left shore the weather blew up again and we found ourselves in 6 foot seas with freezing salt spray blowing over the bow. I turned the boat to follow the shore line around Kizhuyak Bay to Port Lions, we made it there in two hours. At Port Lions we found lodging at the Fox Den Bed and Breakfast, where Judy and Angel took good care of us. Their hospitality and great cooking was just what just what four cold, wet boaters would need while they waited yet two more days of bad weather. The wind blew and six inches of snow fell as we watched more of our time on Kodiak slip buy. While we waited I made arrangements with Island Air to pick up Joe, Mark and Mike with our gear in Port Lions and take them to camp at Viekoda Bay. Persistence is the only way I've gotten anything in life, so I was going to try one more time to bring the boat around, this time with no load. Early on the 23rd I started out and soon found that I was not going to make it, I worked my way to Anton Larson Bay to pull the boat. When I got there I found the bay iced up and the van plowed in behind a two foot high snow berm. I had to break ice to get to shore, I put chains on the van and got it lose. After pulling the boat out through sheets of ice I headed to the sea-plane port in Kodiak to get on the Beaver and meet the boys in Port Lions. Half of our two week trip was over and we hadn't even made it to camp yet, it was time to quit messing around.

Here we are with the Island Air Beaver that got us to camp. We were unable to land at the cabin where our gear was cached due to rough seas at the mouth of the inlet, so we opted for the US Fish and Wildlife cabin further in the inlet. Without the boat, the hunting would be tougher, and we would not be able to fish like we had hoped or put out shrimp pots, but it was good to finally be in camp.

The US Fish and Wildlife cabin in Viekoda Bay is roomy and comfortable. We would hunt on foot from here for the next seven days.

We did get a few ducks. This was Bessie's first ocean retrieve, a Harlequin duck that was 75 yards out, she did very well, she was pretty proud of herself, and I was too.

Not only was it Bessie's first sea duck, it was brother-in-law Marks first sea duck.

Harlequins are pretty ducks, rivaling wood ducks in the lower 48 for beauty.

Bessie, my Chessie-Lab mix and Joe waiting for passing sea ducks. Hunting ducks without a boat on Kodiak is challenging. It is mostly done by pass-shooting since managing decoys in the waves and current is very difficult without a boat. Bessie was forever vigilant.

 Along with Harlequins, we shot some Goldeneyes.

But it wasn't all fun, no, there were some challenging retrieves.

Bessie using all of her Chesapeake half to retrieve this male Goldeneye. She loves to retrieve, I could not have kept her out of the water if I had wanted to.

She also loves to pose, I'm not sure who is more pleased with her, me or herself. She wags her tail so hard after a retrieve when she knows she did good, it's like she's saying "I'm only a year and eleven months". It's really a joy to hunt over a good dog.

Goldeneyes are handsome birds too.

This is the view from the head of the bay, our cabin is around the corner on the left.

 This is a large doe that Joe shot, we got four in all. I shot a doe and two young bucks.

This is one of the streams we hoped would hold Steelhead, it has a lake at the head of it and we could see salmon eggs and flesh being washed down stream. Without our boat we were not able to access it at high tide or fish the upper reaches of it due to the time it took just to get to the mouth of it during low tide. There may have been fish in there, we just weren't able to find them. It was a little disappointing to lose our boat, without it we weren't able to access other trout streams or fish the ocean.

We did get to view lots of sea life

A pod of orca's,

 lots of seals and sea lions,

and sea otters are alive and well in the Kodiak archipelago.

Kodiak can be a harsh, unforgiving environment, but it can be one of the prettiest places in the world, it's all worth it. Next time we go, we will do things a little differently.


  1. What a lovely dog and fantastic adventure!

    1. Hi Bri, Thanks for checking this out. I must not have gotten a notification about your comment and totally missed it. It was a great trip and yes, she is a lovely dog, we really enjoy having her.