Sunday, October 10, 2010


Downtown Ketchikan

Days 47-53

I have spent the last five days with Bill and Nick in Ketchikan and recharged by relaxing.  Bill and I explored the Island searching for streams to stalk salmon in.  As we drove towards the southernmost point of the Island you drive by the “old town” of Ketchikan.  Along the rivers that flow into the sea are homes on stilts that are brightly colored.  In the channels were fishing boats: gill netters, trollers, ferries, shrimping boats, divers in small skiffs seeking sea cucumbers.  The northern end of the Island is more interesting because you leave the noisy crowd of downtown (pop 8,000), and within minutes are in the rain forest.  The tides in Ketchikan are about twenty feet and their effects on the water flowing near the road system is tremendous.  In a couple places, where Nick and I tried to fish at high tide, hoping that the high tide would bring in the fish, the water was impossible to wade.  At low tide, a 100+ foot river mouth was then a mere 10 foot opening.  At the most northern point of the Island is a recreational area called Settler’s Cove where a large tannin river flows into the bay.  We later learned that in August, the Cove is heavily littered with salmon (although it was neat because when I fished it the previous night, there was a small and curious seal remained a short cast away from me).

Nick and I fished all day two days ago.  We started out at Ward’s Cove, which is where we could not wade.  A police officer drove up and found us fishing below the bridge because someone had incorrectly called in that we were fishing from the bridge, which is illegal.  He checked our licenses, which never happens in the lower 48 and my fourteen day license had expired thirty minutes ago.  The policeman did not find it as humorous as I did and he let us go, but it proves that fishing enforcement is vital in Alaska.  To put it in perspective; my fourteen day license was given a time that it expired rather than a day.
Settler's Cove
Then we fished the mouths of three creeks that flowed in and out of Ward’s Lake with relative success.  Nick caught his first colored Silver on the swing with the same Pink Bunny fly that Kent had sworn by.  Just before I was able to snap his picture, the fish squirmed out of his hands and back into the water.  We also caught a few Dollies, but were a bit disappointed in not finding many Cohos.  I forgot to mention that we got rained on the entire day, both of our GoreTex jackets were soaked and my watch, which should be waterproof, took in water.  The shower that night was incredible. 

Yesterday, the three of us rented an eighteen foot boat to explore the bay and fish.  We were hoping to find Cohos, but again, we had missed them due to the lateness in the year.  What is funny and some may consider preposterous is that we ended up using bait to fish the bottom of the bay with our fly rods.  Obviously, nothing else was working, but it was fun to get a strike with fly line down 100’ or more.  We had an awesome day of fishing for Rockfish and Flounder.  The highlight of the day was either when we spotted Killer Whales after Nick had heard them in the distance or when a posse of dolphins swam within 150’ of us. 

Every evening we had dinner at a restaurant called Oceanview, which is a nice fusion of Italian, Mexican, and Seafood.  It was next door to EC Phillips which is where Nick had worked for the summer.  The meals were probably my favorite part of the trip since I was very well fed. 
Nick and Bill
This morning, we went our separate ways: Bill to Maryland, Nick to Montana, and I boarded a ferry to Prince Rupert, Canada.  Claire made it evident to me that I was leaving Alaska for the remainder of my trip, which kind of came as a blow.  The ferry to Rupert was by far the roughest voyage so far on boat, but even then there were only two-to-four foot seas.  My time in Ketchikan was great because I got to see Bill and Nick and Ketchikan is an awesome place.  It was America’s first city, the salmon capital of the world, and the rainiest city in the US, but I’ll remember it as the greatest bout of recuperation on my trip.  I was spoiled by the family: great food and lots of rest, thank you.  

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