Simply put, my daughter and I had an incredible time and memorable experience at the 2019 “Hook It and Cook It” event at Angling Unlimited. What made it so awesome? It was a lot of things. This is our third year in a row attending “Hook It and Cook It” and it feels like an annual family gathering with familiar faces and new friendships to be made.
Before we get to the fishing let me give a shout out to the folks behind the scene who made our experience so memorable. The entire staff is so warm, friendly, hardworking, and extremely helpful. It starts off with Kim McCollum in Minnesota who makes the arrangements for us and ensures everything runs smoothly from the time we first touchdown in Sitka, Alaska to the time we depart with our boxes of fish. Spoiler alert – we had 4 boxes of fish to bring home this year. Our Sitka hostess Kendall was fabulous. From the time picking us up at the airport, transporting us to/from the docks, and taking care of our rooms she was working non-stop to make our stay very enjoyable. No detail was overlooked. The guys processing the fish did an awesome job as well. You really appreciate what they do when you open your boxes of fish and see how expertly all the fish were carefully cut, vacuum packaged, labelled, flashed frozen, and stuffed into the protective boxes. The fish were still frozen, hard as a rock, by the time we arrive home in NYC more than 18 hours later.
Now, let’s get to the fishing. Our captain and deckhand were the same crew as last year per our request. Over four days of fishing, Captain Spenser did an outstanding job in putting us over the fish and giving us a chance to nail our limits. The numbers tell the story. Between my daughter and I, we caught our annual limit of King Salmon, and our daily limits of halibut, rockfish, and other assorted species. At the end of the trip, we brought home 4 boxes of fish that weighed more than 130 pounds. Now that’s a lot of fish. The King Salmon bite was definitely better this year than last year. Where we were fishing you could see that other boats were catching the Kings as well. Its always a great feeling to hooked up a King Salmon and see them jump out of the water and swim around the boat. We couldn’t have done it without Captain Spenser’s superb knowledge of the waters surrounding Sitka. He has a love and strong respect for the Alaskan waters, wildlife, and land and it shows. He and his wife are year-round residences of Sitka. Connor was our deckhand and works extremely hard on the boat. He was doing everything on the boat, and I mean everything – dropping the anchor, pulling up the anchor, setting up the rods, changing bait, netting the fish, filleting the fish, and even making awesome sandwiches on the boat as well. I can’t say enough about how hard he works on the boat.
What makes us come to Angling Unlimited this time of year? It’s because of Chef Ludger Szmania and “Hook It and Cook It”. We had four awesome nights of Ludger’s creative and delicious dishes featuring the fishes caught off the waters of Sitka. Combined with his lovable personality and the flowing wine and beer, each night was a culinary experience and lots of fun with Ludger cooking right in front of us.
Last but not least, many kudos to Captains Tom Ohaus and Chuck McNamee for running a first-class operation. As they say in business, it always starts at the top. Many thanks to both guys for running a great operation and thinking about the future as well. P.S. The pavilion looks great and the new boat Petrel is a beauty.