Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Salt water fly fishing, rockfish on a fly. Sitka Sept. 2014

I was invited to go to Sitka once again this year to fish the Southeast Alaskan coast for bottom fish with my buddy Rick Schikora on his boat, the e-FISH-ency.

We headed down to Sitka from Fairbanks on the 23rd of September, we got the boat and the cabin ready to begin fishing on the 24th. My goal was to add some new species to my list of Alaskan game fish caught on an original fly pattern.
Among the patterns we were going to use were sea lances (upper left corner), shrimp (middle bottom), squids (middle right) and herrings (far right and upper middle).

We got to the fishing grounds by 9:30 and started to catch fish right away. The weather was marginal for fly fishing but we managed to get some flies to the bottom. This is a nice Black Rockfish caught on the Chichagof Herring. It's a tough haul for the rock fish here, many of them were missing pieces of their' fins like this one.

My Black Rockfish was quickly followed by this real nice one of Rick's caught on a Klag Island Squid.

Next, I put on a Non-Pelagic Shrimp-Expecting. Non-Pelagic because it is weighted and in a hook-up configuration to be fished on the bottom, expecting because it's carrying eggs.
China Rockfish, a new species for me, really liked the Non-Pelagic Shrimp.
They really liked Captain Ricks Klag Island Squid too.

This is our catch for the day, one Black Rockfish and one Ling Cod Short of a limit. About half of these fish were caught on flies, the rest were caught on conventional gear.

The 25th found us in much rougher seas and rain. We tried some spots closer to shore where I caught my first Ling Cod, albeit a small one, on one of my own flies, a Chichagof Herring.

These, a Ling Cod and a Yellow Eye Rockfish, were caught one conventional gear.

Because the weather was not conducive to good fly fishing we headed in early. This allowed us time to take care of some much needed chores around camp. Our catch for the half day was two ling cod, two yellow eyes and three black rocks.
 On the third day of our trip the weather was calm enough for some productive fly fishing. Rick deployed a sea anchor and was able to slow our drift from about 2 miles per hour to .8 miles per hour. With the wind and the current in the same direction and use of the sea anchor, I was able to get my Chichagof Herring down 170 feet to this nice Yellow Eye, a new species for me on one of my own flies. He was 34 1/2 inches long and weighed twenty pounds. By casting in front of the boat and paying out line on a slow drift we were able to consistently get the fly to the bottom in 70 to 170 feet of water. The fly was able to stay near the bottom for only a short time before it began to flag behind the boat necessitating a new cast.

 This Ling Cod was taken on a pink Klag Island Squid.

Ricks florescent green Klag Island Squid was a big hit too. This is a double hook-up on Black Rockfish using Klag Island Squids.

And a double on Yellow Eye Rockfish on the Klag Island Squids.

We caught a lot of Quill Back Rockfish after we had caught our limit of non-pelagic rocks so they were all released. This was not a new species for me so it didn't add to my all time list.

Hot pink was a hot color, with this fly I was able to catch 20 fish in 21 casts.

A Silver-Gray Rockfish, a new species for me, also hit the pink squid.

While I fished completely with fly rod on this day, Rick switched to conventional gear from time to time. He looks pretty happy that he did, with this Tiger Rockfish. I wasn't able to catch one of these so now I'm going to have to go back.

Here's our catch for the third day, a limit of pelagic rockfish, non-pelagic rockfish and ling cod. The only thing missing is halibut.

In the spirit of equal face time here's Rick with the same catch. He's pretty happy with his smaller Yellow Eye and his Tiger Rock. This catch was almost all caught on fly rods.

On the forth day of our trip, the 27th, it was quite rough outside the barrier islands, so we stayed inside all day. We were able to add a fifth new species to my list a Kelp Greenling.

Boats require constant maintenance and Rick's is no exception, things need to be kept lubed.
Here I'm performing some unscheduled duties out on the poop-deck. Ya gotta contribute where you can.

Our catch for the final day. The fishing inside was not as good, but we still managed to bring some fish back.
It was a great fishing trip! I was able to add five species to my list of Alaskan game fish caught on an original fly pattern; Yellow Eye Rockfish, China Rockfish, Silver-Gray Rockfish, Ling Cod and Kelp Greenling.
Next time, I hope I can add a Tiger Rockfish and improve on the size of my halibut and ling cod caught on a fly.


  1. Hey, how come *we* did catch big ones like that on our trip in August? :-)

  2. I think we didn't hold our mouths right : )

    1. But really, we weren't able to get out of the harbor at Seward due to weather, that makes a difference. Also, Seward gets fished much more heavily than our spot north of Sitka, I think we are the only ones fishing that spot.

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