Brown bear on display in the Sitka, Airport. A one gate, one counter airport.
Jim, our host and guide. Very friendly and personable individual. He went out of his way to make our trip succesful and memorable. Normally a Hunter and Bear Guide, Jim also does some fishing trips and is the owner of the Float House we stayed on. He picked us at the airport, took us for supplies and groceries, delivered us to the float house, took us fishing, returned us to Sitka for our last evening and then transported us to the airport on the last day. Thank you, Jim.
View from Sitka Hotel Parking Lot on the first morning in Sitka
My first experience to the cost of things in Alaska was at breakfast. Two eggs, two bacon and two sausages with a cup of coffee was $20. I was wondering, what will a week of groceries and supplies cost for 6 people when we go shopping later that morning?
After breakfast, Jim drove us to a sporting goods store to buy our fishing license. A 7 day non resident Alaska fishing license was $87. We then went next door to the grocery store and started shopping for our weeks supply. We bought all the necessary cooking items, breakfast and lunch items. picked up enough dinner items for two meals and planned on 3 of the other dinners would be fish that we caught. The biggest expense was water, drinking and cooking water for 6 people for a week. Water cost $10 for a 24 pack of bottles, at home around $3 on sale.
Loading the truck with supplies. Groceries were not all that expensive. Our total bill in the grocery store was just under $400. $65 per person, not bad for 5 days.
After shopping we went back to the Hotel and checked out. Jim needed to go by his house and let the dogs out for a while before we went fishing. The view from his back yard was unbelievable. A 180 degree view of the bay and mountain ranges with Mt Edgecombe directly across the water from him. We also saw our first eagle sitting in a tree in front of his home. We then went to the fish processing plant to find out how we would be getting our fish processed, packaged and delivered to the airport. We then went and bought our drinks and loaded them on the truck and went from there directly to the boat to head to our Float House and a couple of hours of fishing.
From left to right Henry, Stan, Larry, Danny and in the background Mark. This picture and the below picture was taken in the back of Jim's house. Me with Mt Edgecombe in the background.
Picture taken of the Sitka Harbor from the Lakeside Grocery Store where we did our shopping.Mountains surrounded Sitka, this picture was taken from the dock next to our guide's slip for his boat.
Annahootz, our fishing boat for the week. The configuration of the boat allowed Jim the captain and two of us to ride in the cabin leaving plenty of room for the other 4 on the open deck.
Leaving Sitka Harbor headed for our Float House
Our ride on the way to the float house.
The ride by boat to the Float House took about twenty minutes. The water was blue as the sky and the view was spectacular. We entered into a narrow body of water off the main bay and at the end was a beautiful mountain pictured below. About half way down the narrow body of water we turned left into an opening that entered into the cove where the float house was located.
As we turned into the cove this mountain range was behind us.
This view was off to the right as we turned into the cove.
First view of the float house as we turned into the cove where the float house was moored. Jim moved the float house to the current position the week prior to our arrival.
The float house, to the left was an 18 foot skiff we could use while we were there.
Bunk room at end of the float house, opened out onto a large deck in the rear. I slept in the lower bunk to the left, Danny was above me, Larry slept on the right bottom bunk, Stan slept on the lower bunk at the foot of my bunk and Henry and Mark shared the bed in the small bedroom. The bunks above Larry and Stan were used for storage and staging of our gear. There was ample sleeping bags, pillows and blankets for our comfort. The kitchen and living area proved to be very comfortable, well stocked with utensils and plenty of sitting space for the 6 of us. The wood stove was not used for warmth, as the cabin remained comfortable the whole time we were there.
The weather was excellent for us the whole week. Most days were perfect, temperatures ranged from lows in the low 40 degrees to highs in the high 60 degrees. Most days were cloudy, almost every morning there was a thick fog all around but burned off by mid morning. On Wednesday there was hardly a cloud in the sky and you could see for miles. There was a fine mist on a couple of days, we were very fortunate that the weather allowed us to fish the whole time we were there. Dusk was around 11pm and dawn 3am for a total of about 4 hours darkness. There was always enough light to see 24 hours a day without the need of flashlights.
Friday morning about 5 am picture taken from the front porch of the float house.
About 7am on Thursday morning as we headed out to fish. A cruise ship headed to Sitka.
We tried to pack as light as we could due to the extra cost of bags on the airlines and to manage the amount of luggage we would carry around and store while we were in the hotels and on the float house. Since this time of year in Sitka is the rainy season we made sure to take along plenty of rain clothing and shoes. Additionally, due to the coolness in the morning and warmer temperatures later in the day we took clothing that could be layered, sometimes taking off or adding layers as needed. I personally took along a Simms fishing jacket that proved to be the right approach. Fishing shirt, Simms Jacket, long underwear, fishing pants, a frog togg rain suit and Shimano Evair fhishing boots proved to be my normal dress for the day.
While the whole trip was fantastic, the scenery was beautiful, the weather perfect, the fishing fun and a great experience and the float house was a unique and comfortable. Being in the wild and getting to see the wildlife in it's habitat was truly a blessing. We saw numerous birds including a blue herron and eagles. The eagles were a lot of fun to watch, we fed them at night when we cleaned the fish for dinner. At one point there were 11 eagles on the rocky shore by the float house eating the fish carcasses. We saw a mama bear and two cubs and Stan and Mark saw two additonal male brown bear later that same day when they went down to the shore line in the skiff. We saw hundreds of sea lions on a cluster of rock islands. We chased whale on two different occassions, Jim got us so close at one point, when the whale blew it startled a couple of us.
Eagle in the middle of the picture, it was truly amazing to watch this bird. Their heads are in constant motion moving back and forth searching for prey and food.
Eagles eating the carcasses of fish we cleaned for dinner. The remoteness of our float house was cause for almost complete quite, only noises of nature. You could hear fish bones breaking by the eagles beaks.
Fluke (Tail fin) of a Humpback Whale we chased
Two Humpback Whales one rolling out of the water and the mist coming from the blow whole of another.
The other way we fished was mooching, nothing more than putting on an artificial bait and dropping it to the bottom and then retrieving the bait up about one or two feet. Then raising the rod up and down would catch fish. The fish that we caught other than the Salmon was caught by mooching or sometimes called jigging.
Mark and one of his Salmon that he caught
Stan caught a nice Salmon
We caught a number of Quillback Rockfish, this was one of my favorite fish to eat while on the float house. This picture was taken from the internet as I did not get a picture on the trip.
This is one fish that we caught and threw back every time. I think Jim said it was called a pistachio or picassio fish or something like that. We did catch a lot of them. I will try and get the real name and add it to this picture when I do.
The trip turned out to be more than I could have expected. It was two years in the making. Henry had met Jim, our host and guide a couple of years ago on a bear hunting trip. Henry set up the trip and we were originally scheduled to go last year in June but Danny and his wife Marci had twins the first week in June and we postponed the trip until this June (obviously a glorious occassion and great reason to reschedule).