We’ve got about 500 fish to glaze so we have our day cut out for us. We can glaze about 100 fish an hour, and along with set up and break down we’re looking at 6 hours of work. Much of it in a 40 below zero freezer… It’s the second to last step in the process for us - all the fish we’ve caught over the last several days have been frozen solid and now just need a protective finish to ready them for storage. Each fish gets dipped into ice cold water so that a sheen of ice keeps the air off the meat and holds the fish in their pristine condition. They’ll sit in our freezer that way until we offload this trip at the Samson Dock and they start on their journey to Seattle.
We’ve decided this is our last trip of the year - we’ll put a couple hundred more fish on board (knock on wood) on our way back to Sitka, offload and then get the boat ready for winter. It’s always a bittersweet moment. You’re tired and your entire body aches, you desperately long for a shower and real bed, laundry way past due. You stack the gear and think for a moment, “I can’t wait til this is OVER!” and then the second you tie up to the dock and connect with your friends and share a few stories it’s like a golden shade comes down over everything and all you want to do is troll for the rest of your life… Maybe we’ll get another trip in! Cooler heads will prevail once we get to Sitka, I am sure.
It’s hard to put the beauty of this area into words, but I will try. We’ve been so lucky to have clear skies. Standing on deck and looking at the full sweep of mountains - from St. Elias down to Mt. Fairweather - is breathtaking. Massive mountains climbing 15,000 feet straight up to the sky. One afternoon we watched huge thunderheads move in and as colossal as they were, Mt. St. Elias still towered above. Glaciers run down to the sea or hang in mountain pockets; we passed the gigantic Grand Plateau Glacier that looked like an enormous river of moonlight thundering its way to the sea.. We fish all along the beach and as the afternoon wears on the sand shines like a golden line leading for miles in either direction. Closer to Yakutat Bay we watched 15 foot waves crest and break, wind blowing spray of the top of each wave as it rolled in.
We’ve been fishing pretty shallow (no deeper than 20 fathoms) along the beach, hooking up with fish returning to home rivers (The Dangerous, The Akwe, The Ustay, The Alsek). The fish are big and fat and the weather has been spectacular. The water here ranges from a dusty turquoise coming off the glaciers to a deep cold royal blue, often with a clear line between the two.
It’s our first year fishing up here, and no doubt it won’t be our last. We almost came last year with The Ocean Cape but we chickened out at the last minute. It’s a long haul getting up here, with no real anchorage between Lituya and Yak, so you’re either drifting at night or anchoring right on the beach (as long as there’s no wind). We did a bit of each on this trip, but old timers reminded us a number of times how lucky we were. And as soon as this weather breaks we’ll be looking for the first southerly to push us back down to Sitka.
See you when we get there!