Monday, August 20, 2012

The Odd Fish of Alaska!

A hard fighting Skate
 Time flies when you are having fun and last week shot by with vengeance!  It seems as though we were just leaving Minneapolis and here it is 12 days later.  Alaska lives up to it's motto "Alaska, before you die" as for me there is no better experience.  People have constantly asked how the fishing was and my first reaction is to say that it was not very good.  The halibut ran small and the silvers were all but absent on the Kenai River yet this is only a small part of the adventure.   Every trip to Alaska is a 10 out of 10.  This year the weather was simply perfect with 60 degree days and no rain what so ever.  We did manage to catch enough fish to take home including halibut, ocean run silvers, fresh water silvers, some nice chromed pink's, and a taste of lingcod.  Normally 2 days on the ocean will yield 50 lbs of halibut fillets which assumes 4 fish at a 25 lb average.  With 12 kept silvers at an 9 lb average yields about 40 lbs of salmon fillets.  Our halibut averaged about 12 lbs each,  however I'm not complaining!  One of the more unusual experiences were the strange species of fish we caught this time.  Although we have caught some of these before, I thought I would share the pictures and discuss a little bit about each one and our experience landing these oddities.  The first fish pictured is a skate.  It is a member of the ray family, live on the bottom, and can grow quite large.  We have caught them before while halibut fishing as our rigs are fished on the bottom with a chunk of herring as bait.  These skates bite like a halibut but with their powerful wings, really put up a fight.  The first thing you imagine is having a nice halibut on the end of your line until it gets closer to the boat and starts planing out away from it.  They are an interesting fish, can be a royal pain to catch, but still provides a lot of excitement! Some say the wings are what imitation scallops are made from and the meat is very good.  We will never know as the captain quickly unhook the 3 that we caught and quickly let them go.  They are probably very hard to clean.

A beautiful Lingcod
 The next fish is a 57 pound lingcod that my brother Steve caught.  This thing grabbed his bait and a battle royal was on.  As with the skates, the first thing going through your mind, a nice halibut.  After a 10 minute battle the fish came into view and holy smokes, a giant lingcod.  These fish have a mouth on them that could rival any politician dead or alive!  This one could easily have swallowed a regulation sized football with room to spare.  The lingcod is a very aggressive fish as we have caught them before when they clamped on to a rockfish while reeling it up.  A lingcod is not a a true member of the codfish family rather a member of the greenling family of fish which include rockfish.  As stated, this fish weighed 57 pounds, which is a very nice sized lingcod.  Because they are mostly head and stomach, we really only got about 10 pounds of fillets out of this fish and I can assure you the meat is very good.  The stomach was full of eggs and were told by a guy at the cleaning station that they were actually rockfish eggs that the lingcod had eaten.  There must have been 4 pounds of eggs inside that fish. 

A flounder caught in the Lower Kenai River

The last interesting fish is called a Starry Flounder.  I caught this fish just below the Kenai Bypass Bridge in 3 feet of water.  We had caught an arrowhead flounder years ago and decided to eat it, a big mistake!  The great looking fillet turned to oatmeal in 15 minutes.  We made the mistake of assuming the same thing and missed out on a great meal.  The fish is very interesting as the back is covered with rough barnacles.  Like most of the pinks we catch, this one was snagged with my Pixie spoon and put up a great fight.  My natural assumption is that flounder are a saltwater fish and catching one 3 miles from the mouth of the Kenai was a surprise.  I checked out the Alaska Fish and Game website and apparently they prefer freshwater estuaries and the location I caught this fish makes sense.  Like the lingcod the starry flounder was a great looking fish with the orange/black/white fins and the snow white bottom.  I guess we'll have to wait till my next trip to catch and cook this odd looking specimen. 

Over all I had a great time and there is too much to tell in one post. Our experiences varied from day to day and I will post another report later this week.  The lack of silvers in the river caused us to spend more time fishing and less time with our friends like Jeff King.  We dropped off sweet corn and vowed to get back together again later in the week yet our quest for the elusive silvers left little time for socializing.  The other problem was that our accomodations at the Fish Hut were so dang comfortable it was hard to leave once we tied the boat to the dock.  It was great to be with my cousin's Mark, Greg, and Tom for a week and with so much going on, we never got tired of each other. 

1 comment:

Jeff King said...

We'll get together next time Dave. and thats one nice flounder,a real trophy. Like you I've heard that deal about skate wings tasting like scallops, I'ver heard it 100 times and when you ask the person if they've tried it they never have...its mythology...its all part of the Alaska deal.

Glad you guys had a good time.