Larre led fishing and ecotour excursions on the Best Friends for several years. Our guests booked multi-day fishing charters or came on four-hour tours while in town with a cruise ship. Click the Play button below to hear some of the fun we had on these outings.
Trolling for salmon is allowed year-round in Kodiak ocean waters. Kings are always in the vicinity. Silvers (coho) are around June through September, as they pass through the area to various spawning grounds. Pinks run mid-July through September.
Red salmon (sockeye) run in June, and can be caught in the rivers. Silvers are in the rivers August and September.
Halibut are flat fish that usually feed on the bottom, although we've caught some when trolling. To catch them, we anchor up and jig. You can have two hooks on the line, which can be a lot of work when you hook two at once.
Halibut start their lives as normally shaped fish. Gradually, their bodies flatten out so they can skim along the ocean floor. The bottom side of their body is white, so creatures looking up toward them see a light color that blends in with the brighter upward view. Creatures looking down toward them see a mottled brown and gray, similar to the ocean floor. Sneaky!
There are many species of rock fish, and most get their names from their appearance. In general, the brighter the color, the deeper they live. As you may have guessed, they like to hang out around rocks.
Rock fish can live 100–200 years. They grow slowly, so it takes a long time for them to reach the sizes in these photos. They have an air-filled bladder that allows them to stay at a chosen depth without much swimming effort. Sadly, when rock fish are pulled to the surface their air bladder over-inflates from the change in pressure (which is why they look so fat). They don't recover, so you can't throw them back. A good-tasting and popular fish, most species have been overfished. When you've hooked into a few there's probably a bunch more in the rocks, so it's probably time to move on to a different location to avoid catching too many.
Pacific cod and Alaskan pollock are both members of the cod family. Just to confuse people, the lingcod is neither a ling nor a cod. Lingcod have a smaller range than pollock and cod, limited to the coastal area of North America from Alaska to California. Both pollock and Pacific cod are distributed around the north Pacific rim.
The sea mammals, halibut and salmon of Alaskan waters rely on pollock and cod as a major food source. Pollock is huge for commercial fishing, and shows up in grocery stores and fish sandwiches around the world. Pacific cod are big in commercial fishing as well. They tend to be smaller and darker in color than their Atlantic cousins. For a fascinating history of how Atlantic cod shaped history, read Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World, by Mark Kurlansky http://amzn.to/2mQ6CUv.
Every now and then we pull up a surprise. The sculpins are really ugly, which have led to some interesting nicknames including Ugly Fish and Mother-in-Law fish (not my favorite). They're long and skinny except for their broad head, and reportedly they are not tasty. An occasional sand shark, sea star or octopus may be hooked and thrown back, as well.
As you can see, if you love to fish it's worth the extra effort to get out to Kodiak.