Days 56-58: Auke Bay to Hoonah to Port Frederick to Auke Bay

Friday July 22, 2022 day 56: Auke Bay to Juneau 51 miles- 2824 total miles.

Friday Bryan took a couple he and Nadine met at their Airbnb to the airport. I also had to return our rental car to the airport. He dropped them off, and picked me up after I returned the rental car and we went back to our place. (It worked out great!) The rest of the morning we got ready for our weekend trip.

When Chris was done with work we loaded up and headed out for our weekend in Port Frederick/Hoonah area. The weather was going to be a bit iffy, but it looked like it was going to be good enough to make it over to Hoonah. Chris and I had talked before and we decided that we would go in seas 3 feet or less. If it was 4 feet or more we would call it, and not go. As we were leaving the forecast was at 3 foot seas, so we decided to just go for it.  It started off going pretty well, and then we crossed into Southern Lynn Canal. The waves started picking up and it was definitely more than 3 foot seas. We figure we were in at least 4 foot seas, with some waves getting into the 5 foot range. It was definitely the longest we were in waters this rough this trip. Since we had Bryan and Nadine with us, I was in the v-berth with the kids. Ellen was so good and I was able to hold her and we sang a lot of songs. The kids had fun playing their tablets. Luckily no one was getting sick and everyone stayed calm. We were never in danger, but it was a bit stressful and uncomfortable. 

This trip should have taken us about 2 hours to get to Hoonah, but it took us about 4-5 hours. We were all very relieved when we made it. I was planning on eating at a restaurant when we got there, but sadly they were all closed, so we made sandwiches and we walked part way with Bryan and Nadine to their hotel. 

Saturday July 23, 2022 Day 57:Hoonah to Port Frederick 51 miles- 2875 total miles.

The next morning we met up with Bryan and Nadine at a restaurant for breakfast and then we headed out to explore Port Frederick. Port Frederick is a 19 mile long inlet off of Icy Strait. We were hoping to see bears, whales, other wildlife, and enjoy the scenery. We took it slow and just followed the shore. It was a beautiful overcast/foggy day and while we couldn’t see all the mountains surrounding us, we could see the mist in the trees, which is just beautiful.

 We were also hoping to find some forest service docks to get off and explore a bit on land. We found one and decided we would tie up and eat lunch there. (I’m not sure where this one is located, it is not 8 Fathom Bight, but is near Salt Chuck/ Salt Lake Bay). While I was making lunch I wanted more people off the boat since space is so tight. Chris pulled out our small casting rod that was ready to catch some pink salmon on the surface. This is our light casting rod and it was set up with a small 10 lb. test fishing line. (This fishing line can break easier than what we normally use, which is 65 lb. braided line.) We had a point Wilson dart green herring jig with a single barbless hook. (In Washington we need to use a barbless hook, and we just figured since we wanted to catch and release we would use a barbless hook here too.) The kids got bored of casting, so they gave the pole to Bryan. 

Last summer we took The McBrides fishing off the Washington coast and we did a lot of bottom fishing. We taught them to send the line down, touch the bottom and reel up a little and jig until they felt a bite. Well, Bryan is a good learner and when he got the pole at Port Frederick he did the same thing. He dropped his line down to the bottom and soon enough he said he caught something. He let the kids reel it up. After a couple of minutes and still no fish, Chris wanted to check it out and make sure we weren’t snagged on the bottom. Chris took over the reeling and soon our line went way out. Chris was confident we had a fish. The kids resumed reeling again and after about 15 minutes Chris said he could see the fish, a halibut! 

Chris got the net and was ready for it when it got to the surface and I got the gaff for Chris. Chris, Bryan, and the kids were able to get into the net and after a bit of a struggle Chris and Bryan were able to heave the fish on the dock. The fish was so strong and big it broke the handle off of our net! This fish was gigantic as Lillian would say. It put up a fight and after we got it subdued we were able to really take a look at it. This fish was exactly as long as Lillian! (With Halibut the weight is determined by its length so we didn’t need to weigh it) going off of our measurements this fish weighed 72.8 lbs! That’s about what Ryan weighs. Ellen does a bit of American Sign Language and instead of signing fish she kept signing dolphin, it really was huge! 

A fish like this is worth breaking our catch and release rule, but of course a fish that size also produces a lot of meat. It looks like we’ll be eating halibut the rest of our stay in Juneau… 

After the excitement of the fish we did walk around a bit. The dock connected to a really pretty bridge. It seemed like there was an old logging road for us to walk on. We just walked to the section overlooking some beaches. It was starting to rain and we wanted to explore a bit more in the boat so we headed off. The rest of Port Frederick was beautiful, but sadly we didn’t see any bears. 

When we got back to Hoonah we got some sides at Fisherman’s Daughter. I stayed on the boat to cook up some halibut while everyone else went to the park. I was a little limited on what I had on hand to cook the fish with, but  a simple pan fry in butter and garlic salt did the trick and we enjoyed our picnic of halibut and fries. What a great way to end the day.

Sunday July 24, 2022 Day 58: Hoonah to Auke Bay 49 miles- 2924 total miles. 

Sunday we had an appointment with the fish lady to finish processing the fish. (Chris was a champ and fileted it on the dock, but this lady was going to put it in vacuum packed bags and freeze it for us.) We walked over to Bryan and Nadine’s hotel and met them for breakfast. For whatever reason the restaurant was packed and food took a while. The kids had fun waiting by playing pool and foosball. Ellen had a really early morning and as we were walking back to the boat she fell asleep when Chris was giving her a shoulder ride. Somehow she stayed asleep the rest of the afternoon. Chris was pretty tired so he was able to take a nap with Ellen, while the kids and I went to the park for a bit. (Bryan and Nadine also got a nap in.) 

There were no cruise ships in port so most of Hoonah was shut down. Some of the exploring we were hoping to do we weren’t able to, due to a closed up town. We decided to go in the boat. We weren’t sure if the weather was going to be good enough for us to go home that night, or if we would have to leave early Monday morning, but we figured we could check it out. We peaked out into Icy Strait and it looked decent so we headed off. Most of the water was pretty good, we did hit a rough patch of about 3 foot seas, but nothing like coming in on Friday. We made it back to the dock without a hitch. 

Ryan’s Thoughts: We caught a 54” halibut. It was 73 lbs. No barbs and a 10 lb line and the wrong fishing pole. For the halibut it broke the net! I thought “be calm and reel on.” I know to just let it fight and then reel. I can’t believe we caught it!!!

Lillian’s Thoughts: Yesterday was a weekend and that was boat. We did nothing all day, but the day before that was epic. We caught a halibut! And it was the same size as me! I mean come on! It was 73 lbs. EPIC! Bye!

Why yes we did fit 7 people on this boat, in 4-5 foot seas. (Still only having 5 people sleep on the boat though, we do have limits.)
Humphrey and Grandpa. (Humphrey is grouchy Lillian.)
We have so many pictures of this little cutie. She loved sitting with Grandma, having Grandma take pictures of her, and she loved looked at pictures of herself.
Ryan worked hard for his fish! About 15 minutes worth of reeling/fighting until we landed it!
Lillian was also great at helping reel it in. It was a heavy fish.
54 inches (4 feet 6 inches) and 73 pounds! (Of Halibut and of kid!) Last we measured the kids in May, Ryan was 57″ and Lillian was 54″ I think they weigh around 70-75 pounds. Our fish is literally the size of a 9-10 year old!
Just for fun these were halibut we caught May of 2021. We knew they were on the small size, but we were pleased with them. And not many people were pulling halibut much bigger than these ones. (This was on the Washington coast.)
Ellen had an early morning. She feel asleep on Chris’ shoulders on our way back to the boat for naps. Luckily she stayed asleep and took a great nap. (She slept through Chris taking off her rain suit too!)
Fair warning, at the end of this video Chris does bonk the halibut several times to kill it. If you don’t want to watch that part stop at the one minute mark.

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