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Thursday, September 16, 2010


by Brett Coffman

After spending our honeymoon and 2 ½ weeks in the great land to the north, I guess I should report on the trip, the cruise, wildlife viewed, and of course the fishing. The best way for this is to break up the vacation into a 2 part series. The first part will be the week of Aug. 1st-8th, when we set sail aboard the ms Oosterdam. This was something my wife and I had never experienced before. We’re used to backpacking and camping for our vacations so the structure of everything was almost a little overwhelming. The food was exquisite however, and made the mandatory 8:00p.m. dinner seating worth the inconvience. I know I’m about 10lbs heavier. Our port stops were Glacier Bay, Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan, and Victoria, Canada.
The first stop of Glacier Bay was absolutely breathtaking. When the glaciers “calve” (ice chunks breaking off) the sound is thunderous with a subsequent wave large enough to surf on. We had an absolutely crystal clear day, (unheard of in Alaska) and we actually got a lot of sun.
The actual first port stop was Juneau. The crystal clear weather continued, and we were able to take a ~6mi hike to get away from the crowds, but also get a commanding view of Medenhall glacier. Along the way we stopped at Steep creek and observed some sockeye salmon that were spawning. Check out the underwater pictures my wife got below. Just before we got there, a couple told us we had barely missed a brown bear that was fishing. Dammit, maybe next time.
The 2nd stop was Sitka, AK. This is a small port town on the southeast part of the state. At breakfast we were talking of the sea kayaking expedition we had booked later that day, when Angela started noticing splashes along the inside cove of the bay. These were definitely within casting distance, and some were fairly large. So after rushing to finish our food we packed our gear and took the short shuttle boat ride over to the town. While I was buying my license we found out the fish jumping were pink salmon that were staging to spawn. They say that the fish jump to “break up their eggs” prior to spawning, but we mostly observed them feeding on small schools of baitfish. And so it was-wait for the schools to start jumping, then cast into the frenzy. We really didn’t have saltwater patterns, but these hard fighting guys didn’t seem to care. Egg sucking leaches and black with red Pyramid wooly buggers worked remarkably well. These fish averaged 5-6lbs and could put a hurt to your drag when in the salt. We almost missed our kayaking tour they were that fun. Sadly as we boarded back up, we could still see the fish out there splashing in the bay. We left Sitka shortly after, but promised ourselves to return to this unique and pretty coastal town.
The 3rd port stop was Ketchikan, AK. Again, as we got off the boat we were greeted with the usual barage of vendors trying to sell overpriced tours, Alaskan jewelry, and of course clothing articles that say “Alaska” on them. Once we were able to get past the crowds we again noticed salmon jumping around the boat docks. We didn’t have any gear with us so we just took a little walking tour around town. We finally found a sporting goods store and were able to buy some actual salmon flies too. Upon a stroke of luck, we came across Ketchikan creek and watched as gear fisherman caught fish after fish. Mostly pinks, but also some larger chums. It was raining pretty hard, but the boat was close and we decided to get a little fishing in before we had leave. After getting my fly rod I noticed on my license that Alaska day licenses are for 24 hours, not just the day you buy it. Awesome! I still had an hour and a half left. We ran down to the creek mouth, and also joined the local gear anglers in catching fish. When my time was up, we ducked into a cool little bar called Fat Stan’s and chatted with some local fisherman and artists. This was a nice way to end our all to short of time in this unique fishing town.
The last port stop was Victoria, Canada. Within the city, there’s unique architecture, totem poles and beautiful parks. All this surrounding a rather large port. We only had about 5 hours to spend in the city so we just took a long walk around, and eventually ate dinner at a small little crab shack. It was a relaxing way to end our cruise, but our real adventure was about to begin.

Mendenhall Glacier

Packing on the pounds.

Sitka, AK

Mendenhall Glacier...Wow.

Views of Ketchikan

Victoria, Canada

Totems galore.

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