Halibut, Salmon Fishiing Both Tremendous At Dutch Harbor In Aleutians
A reader of my blog asks if my 4-day cruise on the Alaska Ferry from Homer to Dutch Harbor and then six-day stay in Dutch Harbor have altered my views on the issues I write about in my blog. But I don't think so. I believe we live in dangerous times and the war must be vigorously pursued. And I think the Los Angeles Times should be under local ownership. Those views are likely to remain constant.
I spent two days here out fishing for halibut with an excellent skipper, Dave McGown. I caught three 40-pound halibut and one 30-pounder, and am shipping 67 pounds of fileted halibut home to my daughter and to close friends. This means a lot to me, and I think the recipients are happy as well. Now, I'm just hoping the fish, now in deep freeze, will withstand the trip well by Fed Ex.
A woman in my fishing party the second day caught a 121-pound halibut, and a man caught a 109-pounder. I had a huge fish on the line once, but it broke the line before it could be landed. The fish are cruising along the bottom around 100 to 200 feet deep when they are hooked, usually using octopus or yellow mackeral as bait. There is a two-fish limit daily among halibut kept and a three day Alaska license costs $20. It can take a half-hour fight to land a fish.
I've done some fishing in my life, not a lot. In this case, I have very fond feelings for those I'm sending the fish to, and it's an emotional feeling for me to be able to do it..
A day's halibut fishing here costs $185. Also, the locals are out catching salmon from the shore right in the town. On a village tour last night, we saw a little girl of about 10 land two large salmon.
Some poople come out here to the Aleutians for fishing, but the air fares are high, about $800 round trip from Anchorage. I came one way with the very comfortable Alaska ferry, the Tustemena, which is so well booked on its once-a-month Aleutian run, that I began trying to book a cabin on this boat a year in advance. The ferry stopped in Kodiak for a day and several tiny fishing villages. Its cruise by volcanic cones was worth the single fare in and of itself, including cabin, of $464.
I met many nice people enroute, including some who are inveterate Alaskan travelers, and two New Yorkers on an exotic trip which will also take them to Nome. This young couple went fishing with me the first day here.
The weather here in the summer is cloudy and cool. It remains light until past 11 p.m. Many days have light rain. The U.S. military fought quite a battle with the Japanese for the Aleutians during World War II, and Dutch Harbor, which was bombed, still has many pill boxes evident around town and even a few signs warning of buried explosives. The native population was evacuated to southeast Alaska after the first Japanese attack and many never returned to this area, but it is fairly well populated today. About 4,000 persons, mostly working in the commercial fishing industry, live in the adjacent communities of Dutch Harbor and Unalaska today. The whole community is beyond the tree line due to frigid wintgeers and high winds..
A manager at the Grand Aleutian Hotel, Cheryl Johnson, booked all of my activities here and has been tremendously helpful. She's taking me and a Swedish visitor on a tour of one of the seafood processing plants this afternoon. Dutch Habor is currently the largest sea food processor in the U.S.
My tour of the fake crab producing facility convinced me never to eat fake crab again, by the way.