Just north of the community Anchor Point, where we're camping, lies the village of Ninilchik. It is considered an Alaskan Village with many of its residents descendents of Aleut and Aluiitq Tribes and citizens of Russian decent whose ancestors came here in 1847. Ninilchik is the oldest settlement on the Kenai Peninsula. Ronnie and I enjoyed riding through the old village section down near the water's edge where the Ninilchik river flows into the ocean.
We stopped at a coffee shop in Ninilchik where a gentleman there told me some of the oldest cabins in the village were 100 years old.
This church looks high over the bluff, with amazing views of the Cook Inlet and Ninilchik Village.
|The view from the church, Ninilchik Village seen below.|
Wildflowers are in bloom now.
|Orange Hawkweed, non-native to Alaska.|
|I can't seem to find the name of this flower. It was growing in the ditch near our campground.|
Taking a scenic drive on the East Fork Road out of Anchor Point, it loops through a portion of the Kenai Peninsula between Anchor Point and Homer, we found a good sized moose taking a sip of water. He stood still and allowed us to get a good look before he scooted back into the forest.
We have enjoyed many, many highlights of our trip to Alaska thus far. However, one experience in particular stands out. Ronnie and I decided early on we wanted to take a halibut fishing charter trip, if it worked out. Our campground host, Leigh Ann, at Kyllonen's RV Park knew just the right company, one she always suggested for her campers. Based on her knowledge, we booked with Alaska Gulf Coast Expeditions.
Our day began around 10:00am, July 4th at the Anchor Point Recreation Site. (Launch time varies with the tides of that day.) Our Alaska One-Day Fishing License in hand, we are ready to try our luck.
|We wore multiple layers of clothing with a top layer of waterproof windbreakers, jackets&pants. I'm also wearing rubber boots.|
The heavy duty aluminum boat was launched from shore using a large tractor that backed the boat into the ocean. Because this section of the Kenai Peninsula has no deep ports or deep rivers only shallow shores, many boats here are launched this way.
Once our boat captain, Ed, had found the perfect fishing hole, his first mate, Ronnie James, put bait (squid, herring or cod) on our hooks. We had 8 people total on board, 2 boat crewmen and 6 charter patrons. Here's Ronnie with his hook in the water in no time.
That's Ronnie James, the first mate. Everyone's fishing except me so far, I'm taking pictures.
Soon, the fog began to lift and the temperatures warmed a bit. We were catching sharks, throwing them back and the "under 28 inches" halibut that all charter participants must catch in order to keep one. Alaska Fishing Regulations for commercial boat charters state that each person is allowed 2 halibut fish, one under 28 inches and one over 28 inches. One may catch an annual limit of 4 halibut fish. This information is recorded by the boat captain and sent in to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Ronnie and I purchased our one day fishing license on line with Leigh Ann's assistance (Kyllonen's RV Park).
About mid day, all the fog had burned off and the sun shown brightly. It turned out to be a perfect day on the water, little wind, no waves and warm temperatures (60's).
Suddenly my rod bent down and everyone just knew I had a big fish, I just reeled and reeled. Well, I did have a big fish..a big sting ray.
Now it's Ronnie's turn, he's got a halibut on his rod and hook. That's Ed, the boat captain getting the fish up to the boat and safely off the hook and in the boat's fish box.
Gosh, this is just a beautiful day. You can see the snow-covered mountains all around us. Mount Redoubt, Mount Iliamna and Mount Augustine, each are volcanoes.
|The triangular shaped mountain on the horizon is Mount Augustine.|
Suddenly one gentleman on the boat announced he had "the big one". It's now time to get out the heavy duty gaffs and the specialized "long pole gun" for shooting the halibut. I am told, when one hooks a larger halibut, it is wise to shoot the fish before it gets into the boat for the safety of the passengers. These extra large/heavy fish can and are capable of flopping around and hurting someone.
That's Ed, getting the "bang stick" ready. This type of tool is much safer that the typical gun and is recommended for fishing and also used for alligator hunting. Ronnie said he loaded it with a .38 round.
So much activity went on, everyone scurrying about, that I just stayed in the boat's cabin and watched. Once the 70 pound fish was in the boat, everyone stood around and looked in amazement at it's size..including the gentleman that caught it! What delicious meals it's going to provide his family, he said.
Ed kept up with every one's catch with a marker total on the back window. X's denote your under 28" fish and your over 28" fish. The wavy line through your name means you're finished for the trip, no more fishing for you once you have caught your limit. Humm...my name has the wavy line through it and Ronald's does not. Ronnie is still fishing.
Keep fishing Ronnie..
The day's weather just cannot get any better.
Finally the last two people on the boat get their limit of fish. Time was running out on Ronnie too. It is sometimes said that the best fishing are the two hours before and after the tide's turn, (changing from high tide to low or going from low to high). That's only about a four hour window of prime fishing opportunity, but fish can be caught at any time. Here's this day's collection of halibut from all 6 paying participants. There are the six larger fish and 6 smaller fish. Wait..that one there in the middle looks big.
I caught that big 45 pound halibut (second largest of the day), with a lot of help from the boat captain, Ed..and first mate Ronnie James. If Ronnie J. looks familiar, I learned that he's on the Discovery Channel's TV show Deadliest Catch. Ronnie works on the fishing/crabbing vessel "Summer Bay". No one on our boat had any idea Ronnie was from the TV show until someone asked him about his "other job" working during the winter months on a crab boat.
Yep, I reeled and reeled that fish and Ronnie James and Ed pulled the fish in with the smaller gaff, removed the hook and placed it in the fish box. No "bang stick" needed for this fish and we're told it's the perfect "eating" size too. Ronnie and I had all 35 pounds of fish we caught processed (vacuumed packed and flash frozen to -40 degrees, then sent to my Mom's in NC by overnight FedEx). Our family's going to enjoy some delicious meals, we said.
Thank you Ed of Alaska Gulf Coast Expeditions and Ronnie James of Ninilchik, Alaska. Professional, friendly, knowledgeable and everyone caught quality halibut. We would go out with them again.
Our day ended on a happy note with fish in the freezer and memories that will last me and Ronnie a lifetime.
Another boat comes in from a fantastic day of fishing the Cook Inlet from Anchor Point, Alaska.
I didn't even realize the name of our charter boat, "The Liberty" until I took one more picture, the perfect name for a boat on a fishing trip for the 4th of July.