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Angling Unlimited began running fishing trips over a quarter of a century ago. We’ve earned a long list of loyal customers, many of whom return every year. In our new blog feature, “Client Stories,” some of our fishing friends share their AU fishing experiences with you and provide insights into what keeps them coming back for more.

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Each of these stories is unique. Some of these clients come with family, others with friends or co-workers, and some come alone and join other groups. We have king crazy clients who only come in May or June. We have coho fanatics that wouldn’t consider anything but the last half of August. Our new blog feature provides our long time fishing friends an opportunity to share why they continue to choose Angling Unlimited over all the other options out there. Our first client story comes from Ernie Sauerland of Washington.

Ernie’s story with Angling Unlimited begins in 2002 when a friend organized a trip for four with Angling Unlimited. One of the original four backed out which opened up a spot for Ernie. When asked to join the group, Ernie jumped at the chance. One trip and he was hooked – pun intended. Ernie has returned to AU every year since and quickly decided to take two trips per year to Sitka – one for kings on his birthday in May and a second trip in August for silvers. He fishes halibut and bottomfish on both trips.

“Not having any kids of my own, I’ve enjoyed taking my nieces, nephews and their kids fishing,” shared Ernie. “They started fishing with me when they were young and now we have arguments over who gets to go with me each year.”

Ernie has experienced fishing with most of AU’s captains and met a fair number of our deckhands.  He has been cared for by many of our hostesses over the years. And, when the schedules of family or friends don’t align with his dates, he books as a single and mixes with other fishing parties.

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Captain Greg and Ernie hoist a monster halibut during a birthday trip

“I’ve enjoyed everyone I’ve fished with,” he said. “I always have a great time when I fish in Sitka. That’s the great thing about AU – they know what service means – and that’s what bring me back.”

Wildlife encounters on the ocean form some of Ernie’s fondest memories. Eight years ago, he noticed whales were feeding on a nearby bait ball. As Ernie continued fishing, the whales drove the boiling bait ball in the direction of the boat. Ernie remembers casting his herring near the bait boil and soon a rising curtain of air revealed the whales were bubble feeding.  The group got a front row seat to the whales emerging from the water, mouths wide open.

“They were so close that you could see the detail in each whale’s baleen,” Ernie recalled.


Ernie with his 2013 birthday fishing party

Another story that stands out to Ernie was when he had just reeled in a king that which he’d decided to release. His captain leaned over the edge with the hook-out to set it free. All of a sudden, there was a huge splash and Ernie remembers seeing blood everywhere in the water. He thought his skipper had lost his hand, but once the water settled, he could see that the skipper was safe, but only holding the head of the king – a sea lion had taken everything else.

Ernie will be back again in 2014 – once for his birthday in May and once more during the prime silver action in mid-August. He can’t wait to create new memories in 2014 and neither can we.

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