The adage has it that “most fish are caught the night before”. As for Angling Unlimited’s 2017 season, this time in spring is the night before. Careful, precise, and conscientious preparation is a requirement to take the best care of the people who fish with us and guarantee the best outcomes. That’s what we’re up to right now. Our captains are already on the scene launching boats, rigging tackle, filling cabin drawers with the required tackle and safety equipment. We’re also taking a day here and a day there to run the boats and test the waters. We’ll get a fishing report out soon.
Boats: AU set the industry standard back in 1999. We worked with Almar to create our trademark walk around – the ideal configuration for sportfishing on the North Pacific. Almar eventually became North River and we’ve worked with them to further refine our boats. Volvo came out with a much-improved line of diesel outdrives which run faster, more quietly, virtually smoke-free, and are highly reliable.
We’re meticulous with our maintenance schedules and, after nearly two decades with our boats, we know the useful life of all the various components. We keep careful track of performance and hours and replace components before they fail. This winter our boat Larus got a new engine and outdrive. Four of our boats got new high power transducers that will give our captains a more detailed picture on their fish finders. When they see more on that sounder, you’ll catch more on your line. This spring we’ve launched the fleet and water tested the boats over a number of trips before they go into service for our customers. (See the fishing report)
Tackle: The captains have been busy this April getting tackle ready. All our reels go back to the manufacturer for an overhaul each winter. New line is added in the spring, then it all gets strung up on the rods. Our captains spend the winter tying leaders, assembling the terminal tackle for on the boat, and making sure that when our angling guests hook the big one, there are no weak links.
Excitement: There’s a palpable excitement in the air as we get ready. The hard work of preparation means we’re nearing the best part – fishing with our guests. The fun begins with Hook It and Cook It, less than three weeks away. We’ll be ready, and then some.
Predictions: Forecasting fish runs isn’t easy. There’s the big picture – like the overall abundance of king salmon from the lower 48, through Canada, and into Alaska. That number is on the low end of the normal range. That’s the number that drives regulations. There’s also the local picture – like how good will the fishing be around Sitka. Since we started fishing Sitka in 1993, we haven’t seen a strong correlation between overall abundance and our fishing. What we have seen is consistently the best king salmon fishing in the North Pacific which ranges from good to wide open. The best predictor for 2017 is that our guys are already finding good numbers of kings, there’s lots of baitfish present, and there are whales in the area. All very positive signs for kings right from the starting bell.
Halibut continue to increase in numbers with the fishing getting faster each year. Rockfish and lingcod are managed conservatively and remain very abundant. Silver salmon are nearly impossible to predict, but if the ocean remains as fertile off Sitka as it has been this spring, they should come onshore early, grow fast, and provide the kind of wild excitement we see in most years.