Limited Internet access and problems with the Area Voices website prevented me from posting as many blog entries as I’d planned during my recent trip to Alaska, but I’m back in the flatlands, mildly jet-lagged but invigorated from the epic 10-day adventure I was fortunate enough to experience.
Our last day on the water was Saturday, and the four of us — Bob Jensen and Jerry Stanislowski of Grand Forks, Keith Omlie of Lankin, N.D., and myself — finished the trip in style. Jensen, a veteran Alaska fisherman who organized the adventure and captained the “C Dragon,” our rented 25-foot boat, for the duration of our stay, put us on a veritable halibut mother lode.
With calm seas for the second day in a row, Jensen steered us some 50 miles from our home base in Seward, Alaska, and the bite was on as soon as we dropped our baits some 200 feet below.
I didn’t keep count, but by some estimates, we landed 100 halibut up to about 30 pounds in a couple of hours. That’s relatively small by halibut standards — the biggest fish are farther offshore than we dared venture — but the fish gave us everything we could handle just the same.
Anyone who says fishing isn’t exercise has never fished halibut.
“I’ve never been so tired from reeling in fish that I just wanted to quit,” Omlie said later.
We rarely were off the water before 9 p.m., but Saturday, we headed for port early to begin cleaning up the boat and preparing for the 125-mile drive north to Anchorage on Sunday.
We got back to Anchorage about 1 p.m. Sunday, and disaster was averted when a wheel bearing went out on the boat trailer just a couple of blocks from the house of Jensen’s older brother, Jim. Bob Jensen, who was driving the 30-foot RV that towed the boat, limped the rig the last few blocks, and Stanislowski, a mechanic by trade, was called on to put his skills to work yet again. Luckily, auto parts stores were open, and he was able round up the replacement parts needed to get the trailer back in commission. If the bearing had gone out somewhere along the mountainous Seward Highway, we would have faced a lengthy delay or perhaps lost a wheel, which could have been disastrous.
Our Monday flights from Anchorage to Minneapolis and from Minneapolis to Fargo were right on schedule, and we landed at Hector Airport shortly before midnight. The salmon and halibut we brought home, along with the photos, videos and countless stories we accumulated along the way, will serve as reminders of our Great Alaska Adventure for a long time to come.
Sunday, I’m planning a photo page featuring some of the photographs I took during the trip, and I’ll follow that up with stories from the adventure July 26. Stay tuned.
In the meantime, here are some more photos from a trip that flew by:
Jerry Stanislowski of Grand Forks earned bragging rights for the trip with this 60-or-so-pound halibut.
A mountain goat effortlessly walks along a cliff that towered above the Pacific Ocean near Seward, Alaska.
A fishing boat is dwarfed by snow-capped mountains and glacial ice Saturday afternoon on the Pacific Ocean near Seward, Alaska.
Bob Jensen of Grand Forks shows off a black rockfish he caught Saturday afternoon on the Pacific Ocean, the last day of a 10-day fishing trip to Seward, Alaska.
Wilderness camping it’s not, but the campground in Seward, Alaska served up plenty of scenery for an evening meal of fried halibut, rockfish and — yes — even veggies.
Safely back in Anchorage — bad wheel bearing and all — Sunday afternoon at the home of Jim Jensen, older brother of Bob Jensen, Grand Forks. Thanks to the mechanical savvy of Jerry Stanislowski of Grand Forks, the wheel bearing — which went out just a few blocks from Jim Jensen’s house — was replaced a short time later. Bob Jensen, a veteran Alaska fisherman, organized the trip and drove the RV that served as home for the 10-day adventure.