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Thread: Skiff From Ketchikan to Fish Creek Cabin

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    Default Skiff From Ketchikan to Fish Creek Cabin

    Pardon my ignorance as while I have done much stream fishing in the Seattle area for salmon, trout and steelhead, I know very little about salt water fishing and have never been to Alaska. This is my first post. I have lots of experience operating small boats but it has mostly been on freshwater lakes.

    My wife and I are planning to come up the summer after next (2012) and stay in the Fish Creek Forest Service Cabin in the Ketchikan area for several days. It will be in the August timeframe. We plan to do a little hiking, fish the creek and lake, but also want to be able to dink around locally in the salt water, set crab traps and fish a bit.

    The cabin does not come with a skiff, so I plan to rent one in Ketchikan (16 foot with 25 horse outboard). A larger boat is tempting, but not in my budget. I can have a water taxi deliver us and the skiff to the cabin. However, it is close enough to Ketchikan I am thinking I could spare that expense and just run it out there myself.

    Need diesel for the cabin stove, gas for the boat, and several days worth of food and camping gear. I could see it being two adults plus 350 pounds of gear/gas/fuel oil. I know enough to stay off the water in poor weather conditions, but do not know the waters there and how often I would encounter conditions that would make me not want to attempt.

    Sorry, for such along post just to get to my question. For those familiar with the area, would you advice I just run out there, or arrange for a water taxi?

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    Moderator kingfisherktn's Avatar
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    What was your plan for the skiff besides getting to the cabin? Just running around in the area or taking it up to the lake? If your plan is to take it to the lake it won't work. You'll never get it around the falls. The buoy for tying off your boat is anchored off shore by about 150-200' so you'll need a punt or a rubber raft to get to and from shore.

    Usually in August water can be doable in a skiff, but there were times I got blown in out my 24' Glasply.

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    Default Buoy

    Good info on the buoy. Thanks. Probably will opt for the raft route. I have a nice 5 pound pack raft that my wife and pack in with her Llama's when I want to fish Alpine lakes in the mountains down here. Hopefully not too many barnacles and such on that particular beach to be too hard on it.

    Was planning strictly salt water use for the skiff. A little sight seeing around Thorne Arm, getting crab for dinner, and a little salt water fishing close by. I need to get smart on that eventually. Down here I like to just spin cast with light tackle around shorelines/estuaries for sea run cutthrought or Coho. With light tackle it does not take a very big fish to keep me happy.

    I saw there was a trail up to the lake. We love to hike, so that was my plan for getting to the lake. Thanks again for the buoy info. Was not sure whether I could pull the boat up on shore in the mouth of the stream on higher tides, or the position of the buoy.

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    I take it the buoy is a permanent mooring. In that case you could bring ~400' of rope, make a loop between the buoy and shore, and then be able to keep the boat at the buoy until you need it, and then pull it into shore, wherever shore happens to be at the time/tide. The set-up works just like a clothes line. That is much safer than transfering to and from a raft, and a lot less hassle too. You will want a little weight on the line to keep it below the surface if there are other boats in the area.

    BIg_E

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cougfan View Post
    Good info on the buoy. Thanks. Probably will opt for the raft route. I have a nice 5 pound pack raft that my wife and pack in with her Llama's when I want to fish Alpine lakes in the mountains down here. Hopefully not too many barnacles and such on that particular beach to be too hard on it.

    Was planning strictly salt water use for the skiff. A little sight seeing around Thorne Arm, getting crab for dinner, and a little salt water fishing close by. I need to get smart on that eventually. Down here I like to just spin cast with light tackle around shorelines/estuaries for sea run cutthrought or Coho. With light tackle it does not take a very big fish to keep me happy.

    I saw there was a trail up to the lake. We love to hike, so that was my plan for getting to the lake. Thanks again for the buoy info. Was not sure whether I could pull the boat up on shore in the mouth of the stream on higher tides, or the position of the buoy.
    If we have really high tides you can bring it up below the cabin in the grass and miss the rocks & barnacles. Down the shore to the right of the cabin there is gravel beach but you still have to get it above the rocks and barnacles. I have anchored my boat in the creek just below the falls and put an anchor in front and one in the back to keep the boat from swing.

    The buoy is a good way out and unfortunately a strong southeaster buffets the buoy pretty hard. You will have difficulties getting to and from shore if you have ugly weather.

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    Default Good Crab spot?

    Thanks for the advice. I like this forum. I already have more useful information than what I got from many hours of internet research. I am hearing the raft is not the best option and will bring lots of rope and also an extra anchor. Also, hearing no advice otherwise I will skip the water taxi option and just run the skiff out there myself.

    Is there a good spot near fish creek cabin to get crab? I was planning to rent a crab pot with 100 feet of rope. I assume the rental skiff will have no fish finder, so will just have to feel for the bottom and will be limited to less than 100 feet. Do not need an optimum spot. Just need enough for dinner for two.

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    Moderator kingfisherktn's Avatar
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    I've caught crab in bay right in front of the cabin. I've also dropped a line off the back of the boat while anchored and left it soak for awhile and picked up halibut.

    Look at a chart for that area for as you enter Thorne Arm you can get waves directly out of the ocean and it can get ugly their also.

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    Cougfan....I would think a lot more about that "clothesline" idea, I have done it on Prince of Wales Island where you are going, near Hollis, which is very calm, but I've also tried it in a more exposed bay only 100 feet to a buoy, similar to Thorne Bay, and no way would it work....too much current, tons of ocean "weeds" get all over the rope and jam the pulleys, you'd have to put excessive weight on to keep it below the other boats, which might help the weed problem, but then too heavy to pull in, and you'd have to keep taking the weights off and on as you pull the rope in, etc. etc. Lots of logistics to what you are trying to do, and as it adds up, you might see that you would be better off cost wise and logistically at one of the resorts that provides a boat for your use already there. I know there are some of these on POW island, and others on the forum could probably advise. Maybe you are already locked in to the cabin you have in mind....in that case I would skip the skiff, take the pack raft or a larger inflatible that you can easily beach when not in use, and go out for crab and a few fish when it is calm, good weather and slack tide. When the tide is changing you can get some crazy water to deal with even when the wind is calm...

    Have fun! Too bad the Vandals didn't get to play the Cougars this year, we might have won for a change

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cap'n Ron View Post
    Cougfan....I would think a lot more about that "clothesline" idea, I have done it on Prince of Wales Island where you are going, near Hollis, which is very calm, but I've also tried it in a more exposed bay only 100 feet to a buoy, similar to Thorne Bay, and no way would it work....too much current, tons of ocean "weeds" get all over the rope and jam the pulleys, you'd have to put excessive weight on to keep it below the other boats, which might help the weed problem, but then too heavy to pull in, and you'd have to keep taking the weights off and on as you pull the rope in, etc. etc. Lots of logistics to what you are trying to do, and as it adds up, you might see that you would be better off cost wise and logistically at one of the resorts that provides a boat for your use already there. I know there are some of these on POW island, and others on the forum could probably advise. Maybe you are already locked in to the cabin you have in mind....in that case I would skip the skiff, take the pack raft or a larger inflatible that you can easily beach when not in use, and go out for crab and a few fish when it is calm, good weather and slack tide. When the tide is changing you can get some crazy water to deal with even when the wind is calm...

    Have fun! Too bad the Vandals didn't get to play the Cougars this year, we might have won for a change
    Cap'n Ron, First, I must say the last couple of years, the Vandals would have had a fair shot a beating the Cougs.... . But being a die hard Coug fan, I know they will be better next year....

    Good thoughts to consider on using (or not using) the long rope. I am kind of locked in on the forest service cabin, although I have been researching other forest service cabin locations. It meets my budget and we usually tent, so it is more than nice enough. Some commercial resort/cabin options are very appealing, but exceeds my budget. Skiff plus cabin will be $145 per day total for two people, which I have not been able to approach with any commercial packages. Am combining this with drive up, take Alaska ferry back to Bellingham loop that makes the costs add up.

    I think I will probably still do the skiff, and just see what it is like when I get there. Based on the good advice here, I will have my pack raft, two anchors (for the anchor in the stream), plenty of rope, and a partridge in a pear tree.... . Worst case, I will pull it up on the beach at high tide, and not take it out again until the next similar high tide. This is tunring into an interesting challenge, which I like. Thanks for the advice. You all have given me plenty to think about. Cougfan

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cap'n Ron View Post
    Cougfan....I would think a lot more about that "clothesline" idea, I have done it on Prince of Wales Island where you are going, near Hollis, which is very calm, but I've also tried it in a more exposed bay only 100 feet to a buoy, similar to Thorne Bay, and no way would it work....too much current, tons of ocean "weeds" get all over the rope and jam the pulleys, you'd have to put excessive weight on to keep it below the other boats, which might help the weed problem, but then too heavy to pull in, and you'd have to keep taking the weights off and on as you pull the rope in, etc. etc. Lots of logistics to what you are trying to do, and as it adds up, you might see that you would be better off cost wise and logistically at one of the resorts that provides a boat for your use already there. I know there are some of these on POW island, and others on the forum could probably advise. Maybe you are already locked in to the cabin you have in mind....in that case I would skip the skiff, take the pack raft or a larger inflatible that you can easily beach when not in use, and go out for crab and a few fish when it is calm, good weather and slack tide. When the tide is changing you can get some crazy water to deal with even when the wind is calm...

    Have fun! Too bad the Vandals didn't get to play the Cougars this year, we might have won for a change

    Cap'n, a lot of what you say applies, but Thorne Arm is south of Ketchikan, it isn't part of Thorne Bay.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kingfisherktn View Post
    Cap'n, a lot of what you say applies, but Thorne Arm is south of Ketchikan, it isn't part of Thorne Bay.
    Whoops! Even worse time trying to haul 200 feet of doubled ropes out to the buoy the first time...yikes!!

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    You can catch crab in water when you can see the bottom at low tide, about 15 to 20 ft at low and 30 to 35 at high tide, most important thing is good bait, sandy bottom. The wind can whip up a good one in that area.

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    i would ether consider a little biger skiff with a little more horse power or a water taxi . two people and a weeks worth of gear and fuel i don't think a 25 hp will be sufficient that's a lot of weight for that.and the north west wind can come up fast and you wont have much free board.in ideal conditions i woud not worry about it with out a load.it is quit a wase to the cabin.I don't know your navigation skills but rain fog can make it confusing if you dont know the area.
    did you consider naha river? its a little closer and a great area there is a dock there to tie up to its quite a hike to the cabin though and there is a skiff at the cabin to fish the lake.
    or karta river? I don't wont to scare you out of your trip but just a few things to think about. good luck

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    Bentfin,
    Did look at the other locations as well as flying into one of the lakes. Something to be said for all, including that I would love the plane ride. In the end, keep coming back to the Fish Creek loaction. Have thought more about the skiff. Agree the load in the boat is some worry. We do backpacking, so most of our gear is light, but still boat gas, oil for the cabin heating stove, and a bag of potatoes, and before I know it it would be like having four adults in a little skiff. My real concern is that in marginal weather conditions I would wind up sitting at the dock in Ketchikan and miss a day at the cabin.

    In the end, I am going a completely different route. Buying a used roll-up 3 man raft down here with about a 3.3 HP motor. Ones I have been looking at weigh about 70 pounds in their carry sack. The motors are about 30 pounds. They are tiny, tiny boats, but useable to drop a crab pot out in front of the cabin and such. If I buy one then I will have use of it on my whole driving trip up through Canada and Alaska that I am doing before coming to the Ketchikan. I will just be careful with it around the beach so I do not shred it. Not much of a boat, but will work as most of the time I plan to hike and fish the stream and the lake. Then I will just have a water taxi take me out. Could even fly out, although it costs a little more. The raft is light enough to just carry up and set by the cabin. Will not have to worry about where I am putting the skiff, etc. Thanks for the advice.
    Cougfan

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    What is it about fish creek that draws you there.

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    I use a Zodiac inflatable and carry a patch kit ... have had to do field repairs more than once. 24 hours dry time on the patch. SE Beaches are unforgiving even with the heavy hypalon type inflatables.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sondad View Post
    What is it about fish creek that draws you there.
    Sondad,
    I like to stream fish, lake fish, hike, and eat Dungeness crab. Also like the seclusion of a forest service cabin, but cheaper to get to than some of the more remote lake cabins. Has two short hiking trails, with acess to lake fishing. Has stream fishing in the creek. Can get crab in the saltwater, and play around fishing in the saltwater as well. Just seemed like a good location where I could do a lot of what I like all in one place.
    Cougfan

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