Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The last trip of 2016 Fly Fishing the Salt North of Sitka

On October fifth Rick and I headed to Sitka for our last trip of the season, five days of fishing from his boat the E-fish-ncy. We hoped to add some new species to our list of game fish caught on original flies. Our targets for this trip were Tiger Rockfish, four foot Ling Cods and bigger Halibut, all on a fly.

The rules are simple, we don't use added weight, the delivery has to include a back cast. The fly has to be carried by the line, not having the fly pull the line out. Per IGFA rules, we are trying to catch fish with 120 feet or less line out. We will not harpoon or shoot fish.

We are making our own sinking fly line that uses thirty feet of T20 sinking line attached to ninety feet of T14 fly line attached to our backer. We set up the drift so the current and the wind carry us over the structure we want to fish. If conditions are just right, we move at a rate of about 1 mile per hour. We sometimes use a sea anchor to control the drift better. After a particular piece of structure is covered we set up for another drift over the same one or we move on to another one.

On the fifth we launched the boat and found that we had dead batteries and bilge pump problems so we set out to replace the batteries, this involves removing floor boards and wall panels and contorting our bodies into shapes they were not meant to be in. One of Ricks bilge pump hoses had come off of it's fitting on the pump so it was just recycling water within the bilge whenever it came on. The back-up pump had come lose and it's float switch became lodged against something else under there which kept the pump on continuously. Rick had been having problems with the batteries anyway but the bilge pump issues exacerbated them for sure.

After getting everything taken care of we headed to camp 50 miles north out of Sitka. It was too late to do any fishing when we got in so we did some camp chores and got ready for fishing in the morning.
The seas were calm on day one, perfect for our kind of fishing. This Yellow Eye Rockfish fell for a rubber headed squid fly, new for this year.

This bait fish pattern was new for this year too. We set them up with six to eight inches of wire leader,  then 12 to 18 inches of 20 pound test monofilament attached to the sinking line.

A sea lance imitation, everything you catch spits up sea lances one the deck of the boat so ya just gotta fish sea lances.

Herring patterns have to be part of the line up too.

Rick's favorite fly, my original Non-Pelagic Squid always produces, and Black Rockfish, always willing participants, can be caught from just below the surface to 150 feet down.

Canary Rockfish are really pretty, this one liked my sea lance pattern.

We were able to fly fish all day, we caught and released lots of fish, and kept these for the freezer. The only thing really missing here is some big ling cod.

This Ling Cod is a little better, on a Non-Pelagic Squid.

The seas got a little choppy the second day, we were only able to fly fish about half the day.

These Ling Cod are toothy, it's important to to have a wire leader that they can chew on.

Every once in a while Rick even catches a nice fish.

Day two. Rick is proxy fishing for a really nice elderly lady so we actually have three limits here.

Flat seas again today, fly fished all day.

Two fish in one, the Quill Back Rockfish on a fly and the Big Ling Cod on the Quill Back.

We were catching some really big Copper Rockfish and Black Rocks on this trip.

Then, we caught a new species, I got this Yellowtail Rockfish on a Non-Pelagic Squid.

Day three.

These fish really eat everything they see. I caught this Yellow Eye on a Non-Pelagic Squid and a live crab crawled out of his mouth while he laid on the deck, with a couple of flops of his tail, a sea lance and shrimp also came out of him. We put the crab back in the ocean and the yellow eye went in the cooler.

Another nice Yellow Eye for Rick.

By the end of the trip, our gear was getting really beaten up. These fish are really hard on gear. By this time we had both broken a rod and taped them up.

 We started catching bigger Lings too.

Rick and I were neck and neck with Lings that weighed right at twenty three pounds.

Then he caught this one that weighed twenty five pounds and measured 43 inches long.

Day four.

Day five. Out of five days of fishing we were able to fly fish all but half of one day. It was a trip to be remembered.

On the way home, we had almost two hundred pounds of fillets all vacuum packed and frozen the same day caught. We have fly rods to fix and more flies to tie. It's six months till we get to go again, that might be just enough time to get ready.

GRAYLING on... Spruce Bud Worm Moth, Egg Butt and Egg Head Scud, Egg Butt and Egg Head Nymph, Pink Bluff Chub and Salmon Fork Smolt, Weighted Egg, Salmon River Red
RAINBOW Stocked and wild, on Egg Head Scud and Egg Butt Scud, Weighted Egg, Maggot, Weighted Flesh Fly
SOCKEYE  No name red salmon pattern I will call Noname (pronounced "No nah me")
NORTHERN PIKE Pink Bluff Chub and Salmon Fork Smolt, Innoko Pikey Minnow
SHEEFISH Salmon Fork Smolt
BLACK ROCKFISH on Klag Island Squid, the e-FISH-ency Sea Lance Fish
DUSKY ROCKFISH on Klag Island Squid
CANARY ROCKFISH Sea Lance, Non-Pelagic Squid
COPPER ROCKFISH Sea Lance, Non-Pelagic Squid
SILVERGREY ROCKFISH Sea Lance, Non-Pelagic Squid
CHINA ROCKFISH Sea Lance, Non-Pelagic Squid
KELP GREENLINGSea Lance, Non-Pelagic Squid
LING COD Non-Pelagic Squid, Herring Pattern
WALLEYE POLLOCK Sea Lance, Non-Pelagic Squid
PACIFIC COD Sea Lance, Non-Pelagic Squid
ROCK SOLE Sea Lance, Non-Pelagic Squid 
HALIBUT 25 Pounder, Herring Pattern.
DOLLY VARDEN Weighted Egg, Salmon River Red, Weighted Flesh Fly
ARCTIC CHAR Gravel bar nymph.
LAKE TROUT Nymph, Minnow pattern, spoon fly
CHUM SALMON Weighted Egg, Salmon River Red
SILVER SALMON Salmon River Red, Orange and Silver Flash Fly
ROUND WHITE FISH Orange and Silver Flash Fly

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