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Thread: Chasing Sablefish, All Alone, Out West...

  1. #1
    Member kodiakrain's Avatar
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    Default Chasing Sablefish, All Alone, Out West...

    Thought I'd toss together a thread for Mid Winter entertainment,
    from pics I put together of, One Man Sablefish Longlining, Out West.

    Every Summer, I head out from Kodiak, last year got tied up for weather on the end of Kodiak for a few days before venturing further west.
    I run a SMALL as in 38 ft former Gillnetter, converted into a Longliner,
    and Go Solo after many years of the full five to seven man crews and Large Vessel Responsibility.

    Loving the Lack of Complications, by myself, no need to motivate someone who doesn't want to be there, if I feel like taking a nap, or waiting for weather, no more wondering if everyone else is Happy or Sad...... Whewww

    It's a Lot of Hard Work, have to do everything from change the oil, to Bait all the hooks, clean and Ice all the fish, cook all the meals, etc. but pretty uncomplicated otherwise,

    Just hard work,

    So here's waiting for weather in Halibut Bay on West end of Kodiak, spent days there, took a nice Blacktail Buck, was a good wait, working patience is always good
    In August, blowing SW 35-40 but good protection there



    I even let her go dry for a tide, eliminating some vibration I felt down there from a bit of Gillnet web(yes my own) I had picked up in the prop. Laying over like that, yeah, too crazy, won't be doing that again.... but nice pic and gives you a feel for the boat I am using





    Then it was on down the Peninsula, a nice cruise, as the weather came down to 15kt winds for the duration of the run,
    44hours of running at eight knots from Kodiak to Sand Point
    Here's a sight to behold, "Castle Cape," just south of Chignik
    Ten Hours in that little raft off the AK peninsula, blowin' NW 60, in November.... "the Power of Life and Death is in the Tongue," and Yes, God is Good !

  2. #2
    Member kodiakrain's Avatar
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    Default Let's Get Hauling Gear

    So, here's the set-up for setting alone, a bit funky on the setting chute, (for you commercial Longliners), but amazingly it works, setting right over of an old Gillnet roller,

    I have two tubs tied together to start, actually using C-links to connect for the quickness afforded, you can see the Flag,(for visiblity at distance)

    Trying to find your gear, with as much as a mile of drift before it lands on the bottom, after you toss it over, USED TO BE a challenge, thus the flag with reflector tape, lots of buoys, etc.
    but with DGPS technology, not really a factor anymore, drive right up to it.

    But I have the set all plotted out ahead of time, start running on Autopilot in the direction I want to make the set, toss the Flag and Buoys, and trail buoyline until the anchors, (have tied off for exact placement of the set according to bottom topography) then when on the spot, Calmly walk out of the wheelhouse, toss the anchors and begin setting out of the tubs right over that old roller, I do have them canted up a bit so they set well.

    I set SLOW, no reason to be in a hurry, never been hooked up or had any other than the standard "Ooops spaced something out" problems.
    Fishing Solo since '95, but CAREFUL, is the name of the game, Mellow Works Good




    A few Hours later, as few as 1 1/2, as many as 4 max for my area,
    Lots of Factors, Killer Whales being one of the Main ones, I soak the gear short, Fish hit pretty quick out where I am working.
    Using Herring or Squid for bait,
    and here I am hauling the anchor with my Serious 17" Nordic Hauler, designed for Deep Sea Fishing.
    Doesn't do ANY SLIPPING, big part of the deal there,

    Then as you can see, that anchor is light,(25 lbs, with a 15lb in front to keep the shank down),
    long story there, but my theory is super light gear, short sets, allow me to place my set with precision,......

    Anyway, works well for me, developed after many years of making thirty miles of sets everyday, hefting 90 lb anchors, calculating massive set drift,......
    now I make as few as four 1/2 mile long sets,
    Man I have to bait it all, not much room for experimentation.



    I also use a Hard Ball, or Sealion Buoy,
    (basically unsinkable when pulled under by current)
    as the first in the setup, followed by two Low Drags and the Flag.

    Did I mention the Massive Currents happening out on the 200Fathom edge ??
    The Hardball is critical, sometimes you pull up to find only the top half of the flag still above the surface, all that flotation pulled under by the current pulling on the several hundred fathoms of buoyline,

    Very Exciting at times



    Here I am demonstrating how I have the tub set up to be both self coiling (right up underneath the Hydraulic block), and also easily reachable from the hauling station. Now and then pat it down, pull a small snarl through, etc.
    you can also see I have controls for the hydraulic steering up in front of me, and the hydraulic controls for the Hauler, to my left. Critical to be easy to reach, not hard to do right.

    I have a manual steering wheel behind my leg there, never need it as long as the autopilot remote works without flaw, but redundancy is always good.

    Ten Hours in that little raft off the AK peninsula, blowin' NW 60, in November.... "the Power of Life and Death is in the Tongue," and Yes, God is Good !

  3. #3
    Member kodiakrain's Avatar
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    Default Let's See Some Product ?? Here Ya Go

    So Hauling some Fish Aboard, Here's a nice bit larger Sablefish,



    and Yes, Fish Strippers are Legal, have been since the beginning of the IFQ system,(1995) in case someone is waiting to jump on that,



    I should say, as I am posting on an Outdoor site that has a lot of Sport Fisherman, I hear the accusation about halibut with ripped up faces, and yes, it is true there are a few Longliners who do that, but as for myself, sometimes by mistake, sometimes weather makes it hard to get them off cleanly, there may be a few who are vicious enough to do it without care but it is not as rampant as imagined.

    I Absolutely Turn Off Every Fish I Catch Incidentally as Bycatch, that I can't sell.
    That means with your gaff hook, reaching down circle the gangion or leader, slide the gaff up to the hook and turn it upside down which slips it out of the lip with little damage, releasing them while still in the water. Fish swim away with Vigor,
    Especially halibut, but even little rockfish from the shallows, Really, and I believe there a many who do that.
    Just for the fact that it is a Major hassle to have them come aboard to be stripped. Any rollerman with any sense wants them off outside the rail, but it is workto do it right

    I also feel a high degree of integrity is demanded of someone using the resource to make a living. The accusation is valid, but excagerrated, not everybody is doing that, it just doesn't make sense, especially for the little longliners who have plenty of time to Be Mellow

    That's my position on "Shaking Fish" you'd be amazed at how clean my fishing is, believe me

    Here's an average size Blackcod(5lbs head off, remarkably consistent for the areas I target)



    and the one Bycatch species that I run into much out there (beside Grenadiers anyway, wish I had a pic of those ghost critters)
    the Thornyhead Rockfish

    Ten Hours in that little raft off the AK peninsula, blowin' NW 60, in November.... "the Power of Life and Death is in the Tongue," and Yes, God is Good !

  4. #4
    Member kodiakrain's Avatar
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    Default Some Big Boys, and Headin' Home

    So here are a few more pics from the Sablefish grounds Out West beyond the Shumagin Islands,

    Some Nice ones, as big as I find these days, about 30 pounders,





    and an average size Black, alongside a Thornyhead, not looking so happy anymore, about to be
    "Off with the Headed," and Gutted, Iced, and Sent to Japan, for Money.



    and the ready to be iced Thornyheads, sometimes called "Idiots," (there is some biologist officially naming them "Idios," somewhere)

    Not so large, they actually average about 3/4 lb each after heading, out where I find them, just a few now and then, but they bring high value to the table so often pay for fuel and bait for the entire trip.

    So I cut them and ice them, TRYING NOT to be jabbed by those spines, "Ouch," is an understatement, on that

    Ten Hours in that little raft off the AK peninsula, blowin' NW 60, in November.... "the Power of Life and Death is in the Tongue," and Yes, God is Good !

  5. #5
    Member kodiakrain's Avatar
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    Default The Vessel, "Radiance," and Heading Home

    So, here's the Fine Vessel, named, "Radiance,"

    Some might actually recognize her from a career in Cook Inlet, used to be the "Bashaw," named for a WWII Navy Submarine,
    working up out of Kenai and Homer since '75, til about three yrs ago,
    when I made a new life for her, out where the Wind Blows, Fish Are DEEP



    The run down and back is actually a great excuse for an,
    "Expenses Already Paid," Hunting Trip, and I explore around plenty, try to take my time.

    Learned this the Hard Way, a few years back, as my signature line may indicate to some who have noticed that,
    That's a story for another day, but now, it's, "Wait for Weather, Live Long......"



    Well, hope that was interesting, not too controversial,
    for the Sport Guys who are tempted to despise Commercial Guys,

    I believe the Bottom Line is, "We're All Outdoorsmen, Living Alaska As Best We Can"
    Some have integrity, some don't have so much....

    So, Take Care, Enjoy the Winter, Maybe I'll see ya out there, this summer

    PS: Fishin' is Ok, but Extremely Hard Out There, better to stay in the Central Gulf, Really
    Ten Hours in that little raft off the AK peninsula, blowin' NW 60, in November.... "the Power of Life and Death is in the Tongue," and Yes, God is Good !

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    Member hoose35's Avatar
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    Default

    way cool, thanks for sharing.
    Responsible Conservation > Political Allocation

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    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
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    KR, enjoyed the read. My Grandfather made his living commercial fishing fresh water in Florida. I used to go pull lines with him and my uncle when I was just a wee thing. Have the greatest respect for those hardy enough to make a living fishing.

    Wishing you all the best this season.

    Steve
    "I refuse to let the things I can't do stop me from doing the things I can"
    Founding Member
    http://www.residenthuntersofalaska.org/

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    Member Hunt&FishAK's Avatar
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    hey man great thread.....listen, you ever need a deckhand for a season, let me know.....theres few places id rather be than out on the big water.....i dont complain about work, and i love to see new territory and catch fish, and ive got some experience.....Nice vessel by the way....



    Release Lake Trout

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    Member oldmil007's Avatar
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    Default

    Great pictures and a good looking set up to fish out of. Thanks.

    - Jay

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    Member chico99645's Avatar
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    Thanks for the informative, well written and photo compatable thread. It must be a total serene experience when the weather is nice and everything is clicking with Nature. I got a friend that does the same (Spike Christopher) that does the same thing sorta with Solo Powertrolling Silvers in Southeast. I love to hear his stories and see his pictures. Truely Envious of your lifestyle. Would Rep ya if I could. Thanks again. Truely refreshing this morning to read.

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    Member Alan Sloka's Avatar
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    Thanks for sharing some great pictures and a bit about your life. It's hard to put into words the feeling I had reading through this thread.

  12. #12
    Member spoiled one's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kodiakrain View Post
    I believe the Bottom Line is, "We're All Outdoorsmen, Living Alaska As Best We Can"
    Some have integrity, some don't have so much....

    This pretty much sums it up for me. Great post!
    Spending my kids' inheritance with them, one adventure at a time.

  13. #13

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    Great write up Rain, now you have me craving smoked black cod collars.

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    Moderator bkmail's Avatar
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    Kodiakrain,
    Thanks for the stories and narration. Looks like a great way to make a living and see some of the remote Alaska we all dream about.
    Keep up the good work, i'm jealous.
    BK

  15. #15

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    I really enjoyed that, Kodiakrain. Good on ya!!

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    Member ak_powder_monkey's Avatar
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    purdy boat!
    I choose to fly fish, not because its easy, but because its hard.

  17. #17

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    Very cool! Best eating fish in Alaska in my opinion. Great thread.

  18. #18
    Supporting Member Old John's Avatar
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    Truly a very nice looking boat.... it's obvious to the most casual observer that you've put a lot of time (money) and effort into the vessel... I'm impressed with the orderliness and well organized operation you hve there... /John

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by hoose35 View Post
    way cool, thanks for sharing.
    X2!!

    Also-you fish solo but no PFD?

  20. #20
    Member AKCAPT's Avatar
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    I got rid of my little one man longliner a few years ago. A 36 foot Mel Martin. A few questions if you don't mind:
    How does the fixed gear coil by itself without becoming a huge snarl?
    Do you have a bunch of tubs baited before you begin a trip?
    Or do you haul, clean fish, rebait, and set again all in the same day?

    Your boat looks tight and I love the Nordic on rails like that. Great idea, clearly a cut above the reel I was using.

    Great photos too.

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