Prince of Wales 2023
My last fishing trip to Alaska with Beaver was in 2019. I called him about 6 months ahead and told him we needed to plan another trip. My salmon supply was running low, and I missed the good times. Of course, Beaver said, “Let’s book it.” I made the call and spoke to Wade, insisting that he join us for a great time, even though he hesitated due to the cost. However, I convinced him it wasn’t really optional – he was going to love it!
I talked to my dad, explaining that we needed one more person to fill the boat, and he mentioned regretting not going the last time. Despite having to undergo another cancer surgery before the trip and facing complications afterward, he committed to joining us. He wasn’t certain he could make it, given the circumstances, but I assured him we would make it work. Unfortunately, he ended up having a double hernia just a couple of days before departure. So, we turned to our brother-in-law Andrew and offered him the spot, which he eagerly accepted. And just like that, the wolf pack was complete!
I met the three of them at the Seattle airport, and the atmosphere was filled with smiles and laughter. We were all excited about the upcoming trip. After a couple of attempts, our pilot finally landed us in Ketchikan. With some time to spare before our flight to Prince of Wales, we took the ferry to the mainland and found a taxi into town. Donna, our taxi driver, tried to share some jokes, although she struggled a bit. We wandered around, spotted the salmon spawning, and grabbed a meal.
The flight to the island was enjoyable, and on a clear day, we could see everything. Once we landed, we picked up the truck and grabbed a few groceries before settling in. Dinner at the Fireweed Lodge was always an event we eagerly anticipated. We indulged in lavish meals during those days, feasting on crab legs, wasabi ranch halibut, halibut dip, prawns, prime rib, and delectable salads with all the fixings.
The next morning, we rose at 4:40 AM to be out on the boat by 5:15. The journey out was breathtaking – I never cease to be amazed by Alaska’s beauty. Watching Andrew, who was experiencing Alaska for the first time, was particularly enjoyable. Our guide for the day was Jake, in his second year of guiding. He took us out for Silvers, and within the first two hours, we reeled in about 10 of them. I managed to catch 2 impressive Kings, though, as a non-resident, I could only keep one per year. So, I opted to release them. Jake had a tough time letting those fish go. He held one for the last time, looked at me, and asked, “This is a magnificent fish. Are you sure you want to release it?” I was certain. We also caught Halibut and then returned to chasing Silvers. The waves were high on our way to getting Halibut, and we hit a particularly rough one. I was seated in the front and bounced, hitting my head on the boat’s metal bar. It was a rough impact, and later, I took off my hat to find my hair soaked in blood. Fortunately, it wasn’t a severe injury. While we struggled to reach our limit that day, we managed to achieve it in the final hour, ensuring a great time for all.
On the second day, our guide was Tom, affectionately nicknamed Tuna Tom. With his experience, he educated us on his expectations for a successful day of fishing. Sporting a resemblance to Kenny Powers, he added to the enjoyable atmosphere. The fishing was incredible that day – we caught our limit of halibut and Silvers. Although we only caught one King that day, we decided to keep it since we had just one day left and needed three more.
For the third day, our guide was Dillion, who proved to be awesome. Our plan aligned perfectly – catch about 90% of the Silvers early and then focus on the Kings. And that’s exactly what we did. We reeled in 20 Silvers within the first hour, a much faster pace than the previous two days. The next four hours were dedicated to targeting the Kings. Although we kept catching impressive Silvers, we reached our limit. Wade had a nice catch on his line, waiting for Dillion to make his way over to help. Just as the fish was at the back of the boat near the propeller, a massive Sea Lion burst out of the water, snatching the fish on its way up and causing a splash. It was an incredible sight to behold. Throughout the next few King catches, we found ourselves in a tug of war with the Sea Lion, determined to prevent it from stealing our fish. Eventually, we achieved our King limit and swiftly caught our Halibut. With a few hours left, we tried our luck with Lingcods and managed to catch a couple before concluding our fishing adventure.
Truly, it was one of the most exceptional trips. Spending time with the guys and sharing laughter was an absolute blast. Living in Seattle means I don’t get to see them as often as I’d like, but when we come together, there’s never a dull moment. Wade, Beaver, and Andrew’s presence truly made the trip unforgettable. Plus, we lucked out again with fantastic weather and outstanding fishing conditions.
I’m incredibly grateful for an amazing friend like Beaver and a supportive wife who allows me to embark on these adventures. These memories will stay with me until the end of my days.