Spectacular for Kings:
2009 turned in one of the best king seasons we’ve seen in years. It started with a little scare – the kings were a week late, making our first few days of operating in mid-May on the slow side. Then, the fish showed in force during the last 10 days of the month and the run built to epic numbers throughout June. We had many days with large schools of fish under the boat, multiple hookups, and sunny calm weather. It was a June to be remembered, with good halibut action, too. We even had a stretch when silvers, chums, and pinks entered into the mix as the ocean came alive with plankton and whales – lots of life. The king fishing held up well into the middle part of August.
Although the kings weren’t exceptionally large, the overwhelming majority were a respectable 20 to 25 pounds. The numbers were spectacular. And a few whoppers did hit the dock including Bart Nelson’s 54 pounder taken on June 22 at Point Mary and Wim Kooyker’s 55 pounder taken in the Shark Hole on August 10.
Sporadic for Silvers:
For reasons unknown, the silvers came and went more than once during the 2009 season. We had the June showing followed by a disappearing that lasted a few weeks. We had a second showing toward the end of the second week of July at Cape Edgecumbe with limits and near limits for three or four days, followed by yet another slow down for about a week. After that, the silvers were solid on some days, tough on other days. Thankfully, the kings picked up any slack provided by the silvers through the second week of August, at which point the silvers were very well established.
From mid-August until the end of our season the silver fishing ranged from good to excellent. Wide open crazy bites weren’t common, but solid action that ended with limits were a regular happening and the quality (as in size) of the fish was consistently terrific with many silvers over 10 pounds with a solid sprinkling of fish over 15 pounds. The season ended with the McArthur group doing well on silvers and halibut on their last day – September 6. The Buak party brought in silver limits on two of three of their days fishing September 8-10.
Steady for Halibut:
Halibut fishing remained consistent through July and into August. We even saw the occasional excellent halibut catch made right on the salmon grounds. Deep, deep water halibut fishing was solid throughout the season, but we also found fast action with decent quality fish closer to home – just a few miles offshore of our salmon spots. The limit for halibut was down to one per day and the commercial quota is half of what it was three years ago. These cuts in catch appear to be yielding the desired effect – more halibut on the grounds.
Super for weather:
The weather throughout much of the season was calmer than normal, drier than normal. The days with long views of the outer coast of Southeast Alaska, including the Fairweather Range of mountains, were many. We had near record lack of rainfall in June and July. The persistent high pressure system parked over Southeast Alaska occasionally generated strong northwest winds and fog on the ocean, but even if the day on the water was a big grey and cool, the return to shore found Sitka bathed in 70 degree sunshine. All in all, one of the better weather years we’ve seen and a welcome payback for the cold, wet summer of 2008.
Biggest fish of 2009:
Wim Kooyker, who has fished with AU since 1997, landed the biggest king of 2009, a 55 pounder caught in the Shark Hole on August 10 with Captain Chuck McNamee. A very close runner up was landed by another long time AU friend – Bart Nelson who has fished with AU since 2002, landed a 54 pounder at Point Mary on June 22 with Captain Chris Weiland
Mark Tuschoff, whose family began fishing with AU in 1996, brought in a 21 pound Silver on Aug 24 fishing with Captain Chuck McNamee.
Joey Lemmon landed a 240 pound halibut on August 18 fishing with Captain David Gross.
A 32 pound shortraker rockfish was taken by Stan Miller on July 14 with Captain Tom Ohaus (the biggest rockfish Captain Tom has seen during his 22 years of guiding.)
A tie at 35 inches goes to countless AU anglers given that 35 inches is the maximum size we can keep. A second ling over 55 inches can be kept, but that size seems nearly unattainable. A handful of our customers got within 3 or 4 inches of this Holy Grail of lingcod, but nobody got one.