All is quiet in Petersburg Harbor as we ease out of our stall at 5:30 am. We are eager to get an early start today as the forecast calls for gale force winds this evening and tomorrow. Hopefully we will be safely tucked into our anchorage before the front arrives. At 4 am we have sufficient light but the strong currents in Wrangell Narrows keep us at the dock for a couple more hours.
Frederick Sound appears abandoned of all boaters today. Even the resident sea lions have disappeared from their sea buoy perch and are nowhere to be found. I suspect they are out searching for breakfast.
Reaching the junction of Frederick Sound a few hours later, we recheck the weather forecast. It has changed and not for the better. Tonight’s winds are now forecast to be 30 knots with gusts up to 40. Change of plans… we decide to head to Henry’s Arm in Pybus Bay on Admiralty Island. We stopped here earlier this season and know it will be a bomb proof shelter.
We make a brief stop at our secret halibut hole. Within an hour, we have a small 15lb halibut aboard. We have always caught a halibut here and our record remains unbroken.
Henry’s Arm proves to be a good anchorage. Two enjoyable days are spent here without feeling any effects of the blow raging outside. Jeff takes the paddle board ashore to collect some sea asparagus. This tasty tideline plant is slightly salty and makes a great addition to any fresh salad.
We have never crabbed in here before as we think it is void of crabs. With two free days, Jeff decides to brave the rain and sets out two traps to sample the cove. We were pleasantly surprised to collect five big hard shell crabs during our stay.
With the weather improving, we move 21 miles further west to Chapin Bay. During our kayak of the bay we marvel at the quantity and size of the jellyfish floating just below the surface.
We exit Chapin the next morning in dense fog with Susie out on the bow to watch for the many logs lurking just below the surface.
As we reach the southern tip of Admiralty Island, the fog lifts and gives us a spectacular view of the snow capped peaks of Eastern Baranof Island.
It is high slack tide at the junction of Chatham and Frederick Sound. Yasha Island which is located at this junction is reported to be a good spot for halibut fishing. We find a shelf of 130 feet and drop our halibut rig. Within five minutes we have a halibut on the line. Thirty seconds later, he appears to have shaken the hook. Oops….now we are hooked on the bottom (or so we think). Jeff comes out to try and free the lure with no luck. He then rushes back in the pilot house to back down on the line. It doesn’t budge. All of the sudden we feel a movement. It’s not the bottom. We have a halibut on the line. After forty five minutes of struggle, we can see him just below the surface. It is a halibut alright, a really big one. Jeff jabs him with the harpoon but he pulls free and makes a long run. He quickly strips off 100 yards of line. Now he is wounded and mad. After taking turns pulling this reluctant weight up to the surface we finally get him along side the boat for the second time. This time the steel harpoon tip penetrates his gill plate and we soon have him securely tied to the side cleat. We leave him there for thirty minutes until all life is gone. With lots of effort, Jeff is able to hoist him up onto the swim platform where he will stay until we reach our anchorage for the evening.
We work our way north up Chatham Strait along the east side of Baranof Island. This area is known as “the waterfall coast” due to the large number of waterfalls cascading down from the high snow covered peaks. It is a beautiful sunny day to be in Alaskan waters.
Takatz anchorage will be our home for the next few days. It is a beautiful spot inside a large granite bowl with about 10 waterfalls echoing thru thru the bay. In the past years we have always seen brown bears here so we will keep our eyes open for them.
Our first task is to clean our monster halibut. We decide to hang him from the top deck. He measures 61” which means he is around 114 pounds.
Jeff has a difficult task of cleaning him on the boat but does a great job. Due to federal regulations, we can only cut the halibut into 4 parts (2 ventral and two dorsal) while on the boat. This is so regulators can document how many fish you have onboard. We are only allowed to catch two halibut per day and have 4 halibut per person onboard. Our challenge is freezer space. These large 10 pound pieces make it very difficult to store. At some point we will need to ship the meat home so we can continue fishing.
That’s all for now, stay tuned for our swimming bear encounter here in Takatz in our next blog. Thanks for following along.