Our week with Wild Alaska Cruises was spent along the southern edge of islands known as the ABC Islands of Alaska. There are many other groups of islands in the world’s oceans with the same name.
The three islands that make up the AK-ABC group are Admiralty Island, Baranof Island and Chicagof Island. Our fishing took place south of Admiralty and west of Baranof Island to the east of Petersburg where our flight landed.
The mother ship, the Perseverance, is specifically designed as a luxury private yacht. It is 90 feet long, carries a crew of six and eight passengers. Two skiffs ride atop the fantail and two guide boats are towed behind. Every detail has been carefully thought out by the owner, Larry Larson.
Our trip on the Perseverance was slow and steady. It traveled at about seven knots. Most of the time, the two guide boats either led or followed the mother ship to our destination, as they could travel at greater speed. That gave us time to fish along the way. Stratham Straight is a large body of water with heavy ocean influence. There we found halibut, salmon, lingcod and rock fish.
Here’s a picture of the Patience’s depth finder after it passed over a school of pelagic rock fish.
Our host was Larry Larson, Captain and owner of the Perseverance. Our fishing guides were Robert Elliot and Chase Martenson. They knew how to find and catch fish. It is a very large area with plenty of voids and also nooks holding numbers of fish.
We were on the Copper River for five days with Jack Johnson of the Alaska Legends Lodge. The sockeyes arrived two days before we did. There were plenty of them. The trout were scarce. We spent some time trying to catch them too, but the big ones mostly broke off.
For the most part we cast pink and green sockeye flies at the fish with six to eight weight rods and ten to twelve pound leaders. The sockeyes were very fresh and very strong. They fought like crazy, jumping and cartwheeling. We may have caught 50% of what we hooked.
For trout we tried a lot of flies. I hooked a large rainbow with a cadis imitation dry fly, but couldn’t keep him on. A fly called the Dolly Llama hooked the most trout, but again we failed to land the largest of the bunch.
Typical size for the sockeyes was five to eight pounds, with a few outliers.
Best photo of the trip:
Here are some more photos. More to follow.
This sow and cubs passed by close on our last day of fishing.
Rob caught this nice rainbow which was one of the larger trout we caught. It was too early in the run for the big flesh-eating trout.
Caught this salmon on a dry fly while trout fishing.
I’m fishing for trout as a brown bear snorkels for sockeye salmon about 20 yards up stream. You can see his ears only.
Joe DiDonato with a nice sockeye.
Jeff watches as Mike revives a sockeye.
Guides Jack and Mike driving the boat with two engines.
Gulls were constantly watching.
Me with sockeye.
Rob Fletcher with nice sockeye.
Pat Romani with nice sockeye.
Rob Fletcher fights a sockeye.
Bob’s nice sockeye.
Guide, Jack nets Bob Smallman’s sockeye.
Guide Mike nets sockeye
Pat Romani fights sockeye while Jeff Kerry looks on.
The Beaver departs camp on day one.
Bob fights fish while guide Mike waits at the net.
The lodge is tucked away in an Island Cove just off the coast of northern BC and seaward of the inland passage. Although protected and calm, it’s only about a mile run to the surf and maybe 10 miles to actual deep water fishing for halibut.
Each group of two fishermen received use of a 16 foot Boston Whaler that appeared to be brand new and each was powered by a 50 horse Yamaha outboard. We were led to the fishing grounds by the fish-master each day and had a lot of freedom to do as we pleased.
We were provided box lunches so we could fish all day or we could choose to return to the lodge for lunch. Food was very good and ample.
The salmon fishing was very good and we landed several nice salmon each day including sockeye, king and silvers. The largest king we landed was about 25 pounds and the silvers ran in the eight pound range. The sockeye were the smallest of the group.
The key to success seemed to be locating fish (boats were equipped with fish finders) and determining the best depth to keep you bait. We fished mooching rigs and most of our salmon were caught at around 25 to 30 feet.
On one occasion we followed the fish-master out to sea a few miles in heavy swells (about ten footers) to fish for halibut. The halibut fishing was pretty good and we caught our three-fish per person limits rather quickly, but none were large fish with the best one in the ten pound class. After about an hour of halibut fishing in the heavy water we were ready to head in.
The three-day stay was too short for us and we would have been happy to stay a few days longer. This is a good trip for hard core fishermen.