Fishing Yakutat

It has been three years since the last voyage of the Nordic Quest. In the meantime the Quest has been sold and a pandemic raged. Three years is long enough, time for a return to the mainland and another fishing trip. My first visit to the mainland since the pandemic started.

King Salmon
A nice king salmon from Yakutat Bay

My father and brother had not taken much of a pause, with the sale of the boat they have instead headed to a fishing lodge for their annual fishing. After some research my father decided on Yakutat for the abundance of halibut and more generous fishing regulations than found in SE Alaska.

For the last couple years they have used Yakutat Lodge, a choice I have to agree with. We had a great time with five days of fishing on Yakutat Bay.

The weather? Typical Alaska… Rain, cold and heavy at times, with oversast skies that put a dark dressing on the day. We did get a couple sunny days, or at least partial clearing with a few moments of sun, good enough to call sunny.

The first sunny morning also provided a spectacular view… The St. Elias range looms over Yakutat bay, half of the ten highest peaks in North America are in the St. Elias Range and several are visible from the bay including Mt. St Elias at 5489m or eighteen thousand feet. This morning they gleamed in the early sunlight with fresh snow. Seen from sea level these mountains are simply stunning as the slopes rise precipitoulsly above the bay.

The goal of our hunt was halibut. Like my father I am under spousal orders to bring home halibut. Salmon and ling cod may be acceptable, a little is permissible in the cooler, but halibut is by far preferred. If we must insist on running off to Alaska to fish and have fun we could at least bring home the correct fish.

Ben halibut fishing in Yakutat Bay
Ben halibut fishing in Yakutat Bay

The fishing was pretty good, despite locals commenting that the fishing had been “slow” lately. We limited out on halibut four of five days. One day was slow, we landed a single small halibut after hours of effort. Giving up on halibut we tried mooching for salmon along Kaantaak Island. This rewarded us with another small halibut and a modest ling cod. About to give up for the day I landed the only decent fish of the day, a nice king salmon that gave us something respectable to return to dock with.

One day of excellent weather we tried our hands at black rockfish, sometimes called black bass. This was just fun, these abundant fish are easy to catch and good eating. I hit the limit of five first prompting my father to ask “Where is your pole?” “I am done, got my fish!” I will be trying my hand at making rockfish tacos soon.

There were other adventures as well… A road trip to Dangerous River and Harlequin Lake, a lost bird, making caviar, finding remnants of WWII, and simply exploring the small town of Yakutat, a place I had never been before.

The resulting catch provided us planty of fish to take home, five boxes and a cooler each with about fifty pounds of fish inside. We had to shuffle and plan who would check in each box to get it all on the plane home. Personally I would take a single cooler full all the way back the Hawaii, all I have room for in the freezer.

Author: Andrew

An electrical engineer, amateur astronomer, and diver, living and working on the island of Hawaiʻi.

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