Sunday, July 26, 2015

Juneau and Coots Bay 7/20/15

A couple of rainy days in Juneau along with a day of sunshine.   Juneau is a capital city but you would not know it from our visit.  About 40 miles of roads, including a 4 lane section, are isolated to the area just to the north and south of the city center.  Our docking arrangements were at the transient dock between our friends on Antipodes and a 75’ aluminum fishboat.   Overall length of our part of the dock was about 60 feet.   With lots of help and missing having a stern thruster we got WORKNOT secured to the dock just as the rain stopped. 

WORKNOT was docked about 5 feet behind PACIFIC PREDATOR and about the same distance from ANTIPODES.  As they left the crew of the fishboat made sure they did not have to deal with scratching a cruising boat.  Both young ladies on the boat were working for the summer before returning to college and seemed to be very enthusiastic about life on a fishboat.

We liked Juneau much more than Ketchikan but can’t really say why.   The feel of the city was different even with 4 cruise ships in port and the usual collection of tourist shops.  We met a couple of people on the docks who call Juneau home and they all had good things to say about living there.    We made our way to Walmart thanks to a fisherman we helped get some fuel to on our way north.  LITTLE RED  ran out of fuel about 10 miles south of Juneau and with the help of our fuel can, Antipodes gave him 15 gallons to make it home.  Don't have an easy way to get fuel from my tanks to jug but will remedy that next time I can find a 3 way valve.  The captain Doug, found us in Harris harbor the next day and stopped by to say thanks and offer a ride to get supplies.

Picking up our empty fuel jug “Deadliest Catch” style

Here is LITTLE RED getting fuel transferred.  Doug also shared his favorite fishing spots for halibut and salmon.   They would bear fruit later on…..

Leaving Juneau in the rain we traveled south back down the Gastineau Channel to Stephens Passage.  Along the way another cruise ship was making its way to port to unload well over a thousand passengers for the day.  Trips to the Sawyer Glacier where we just left as well as Mendenhall Glacier a highlight of a trip to Juneau.  Fishing is reported to be very good as we go north and our plan was to fish Skull Island. 

Weather along the way was very calm but rainy and foggy.  Winds were less than 10 knots most of the 15-20 miles to the fishing grounds but as we rounded the corner to Skull Island the wind picked up to 20 knots and it was very cold.  Weather drove us off of the intended fishing spot but we moved across the channel where several other boats we fishing.  Turns out they knew what we did not and finally caught salmon!
The technique is called “mooching”.  Mid sized frozen herring is rigged to rotate when retrieved at a slow speed.   The weighted bait is cut to make it spin and it works.  Lots of excitement as we landed our first salmon.  Really not well prepared for success, we lost the first fish we hooked as the net, gaff etc were not ready for action.  We are learning and next time will have the net, fishbag and crew ready for action. 

With the weather still rainy and overcast we headed to Coots Bay about 20 miles away.  As we moved south again a pod of whales appeared just behind us.  After turning back to see them we were greeted by at least 6 whales feeding near the shore.  The scene was unreal as they repeatedly smacked their tails against the surface, breached and put on a show.  Below are some shots taken by WORKNOT and an incredible set of shots by Randy on ANTIPODES.  A whale breached between us and it was just too close.  Less than 100 feet from us.  See for yourself just how spectacular the day turned out to be.

Here is the scary shot taken by Randy, I was too awestruck to get a shot....

Capping off the outstanding day arrived at Coots Bay anchorage in fog and rain that reduced visibility to less than 1/3 mile.  By the time the anchor was down the rain stopped and the rest of the afternoon and evening were quiet, dry and peaceful.. 

Box Score   7 hours (including fishing and whale watching)  41 miles, 22 gallons……..

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