August 7 – Our campground host had been talking about his favorite fishing spot and we had certainly seen lots of salmon just waiting to be caught, so Stacie decided to try to catch her dinner again. Fearing that she might not have great luck right away she bought a three day fishing license. We started out at our host’s fishing hole. We’d tell you where it was but we’d have to kill you afterwards to keep it secret. All we will say is that there was a twenty minute hike and a walk down a streambed to get to the spot. When we got to the spot Stacie started casting. Since snagging isn’t allowed in fresh water she was using a white spinner. Right away she had little Dolly Vardens (a kind of char) following her lure in. One of them eventually decided to hit it and she effortlessly dragged in a little eight incher which we promptly released. While Stacie was fishing, Dave explored the stream and found two salmon that were starting the spawning process. They had paired up and the female would turn over onto her side every few minutes and vigorously shake her tail to brush away the gravel of the streambed creating a hole. We never saw the actual spawning as after about an hour of casting Stacie decided it was time for us to try another spot.
We hiked back out to the truck and headed for 12 mile creek which the day before had been filled with Pink Salmon. When we got there we found that even more salmon had arrived. Stacie started casting and within fifteen minutes she had hooked a fish. The salmon fought well and once she had gotten it to shore we found that it was hooked in the back, which meant she had to release it as only fish hooked in the mouth may be kept. She resumed fishing and after releasing a few more snagged fish she got one in the mouth! Dave talked her through the landing process and netted her prize. The fish was stunned with a blow to the head and then Stacie held it up for a picture. It was 22 inches long, well over the 16 inch minimum size. Dave cleaned and filleted the fish (which was fun since he had never filleted a fish before, although he had watched his father clean many). We gathered up our gear and got the fillets on ice right away. Now that Stacie had caught a fish we dreamed about catching a whole bunch and having them frozen and shipped home. We went into town to investigate the possibilities and found a butcher shop that offered flash freezing and shipping (we never would have thought of trying them, but once again our campground hosts had all the answers!) We considered going back to catch more fish, but once again the bag of dirty clothes was overflowing so we went to the Laundromat. After laundry we showered and headed back to camp for Stacie to grill and enjoy her trophy.
August 8 – Stacie had decided to try to catch a bunch of salmon to send home so it was a fishing day. We started out on the Harris River at a spot we saw from the road that had lots of waiting salmon. After half an hour and three throw backs (and several escapees) Stacie had her first salmon of the day. It was average size and Dave filleted it and got it on ice. About twenty minutes (and three more throw backs) later she had her next salmon. We could tell as we landed it that it was a female since the back did not have a pronounced hump and the belly was bulging (full of eggs). As Dave made his first cut into the fish the eggs just spilled out. Dave was getting better at filleting and this fish didn’t take long. Stacie tried fishing for a while longer, but no luck. We got back in the truck and went to 12 mile creek where she’d hooked her first fish. Back at her “lucky spot” Stacie caught a monster salmon - it was over 25 inches long. She caught one more Salmon and decided to take a break. Dave tried a few casts and hooked a salmon in the mouth, but it was a strong fighter and it broke the line, taking our prize spinner with it. Stacie resumed fishing with another spinner, but didn’t have any luck hooking salmon in the mouth (they weren’t biting at this lure so she was just snagging). We decided to call it quits and headed for town to drop off the fish. We had visions of a massive catch, but had only taken home seven pounds of fillets. The owner of the butcher shop was great and he threw in some halibut steaks that he had caught the day before. Stacie called her parents to warn them that a package was on the way. Since we didn’t get any good bear pictures on the kayaking trip we had done a few days before, we decided to try again. This time Stacie brought her camera which can zoom in quite a bit. We had timed the tides just right and we arrived in the stream at the perfect time. Unfortunately a group of kids was hiking in the area and were making a lot of noise for their safety and as a result they had scared the bears away. We still had a nice kayak and Dave said that if we ever return to the area he’d like to try fishing from the kayak.
This was our last night on Prince of Wales Island and in essence it was our last night in Alaska. We wanted to go out somewhere nice for dinner, celebrating Dave’s birthday and the end of the Alaska phase of our adventure, but we didn’t find anywhere that looked good. So we decided to postpone the birthday dinner and celebrated our last night at Zat’s pizza. We had our “usual” pitcher, bread sticks, and a small pizza. As we were finishing our feast the owner came out and asked us how everything was. He had noticed our truck (and the website address above the bumper) and had been doing some surfing. He jokingly asked us if Zat’s was going to make the website (“If Burger Queen made it we have to be in there too”). Little did he know that the page with our first visit had already been written and yes, Zat’s definitely makes the cut. We headed back to camp and called it a night.
August 9 – This was it, our last day in Alaska. We started out by hitting one last totem park, the one in Klawock. A town walking tour map claimed that with 21 totem poles, this was the largest collection of authentic totems in Alaska (a claim that several other places have made). We noticed that there were several stumps where totems had been cut down and removed reducing the total to 18 (they need to update their map). The totems were interesting in that they were carved in a style that was markedly different than most others that we’ve seen. After the totem park we returned to the campsite and packed everything up and had lunch. Our hosts weren’t around so we didn’t get a chance to thank them for all their advice. To make the trip south to Prince Rupert, B.C. we had to first take a ferry to Ketchikan and then make a “convenient transfer” to a southbound ferry (which left at 1:15 in the morning). Our ferry to Ketchikan left at 2:10, so we checked in at 1:00 and our waiting game started. The ferry departed about ten minutes late and the sailing was uneventful. While in the narrows that create Ketchikan’s harbor we passed Greenpeace’s ship which has been the subject of much local controversy. Not satisfied with the havoc they wrought on the local economies when they got logging restrictions enacted in the late 1990’s, Greenpeace was on an eight week tour of southeast Alaska to make sure the restrictions they advocated weren’t rescinded and to propose new restrictions. Ketchikan was their first stop and needless to say their visit wasn’t welcome. The city had denied them use of the city docks to tie up their ship (there were no spaces available for a week that could accommodate a ship that big they said) and the borough council had passed a resolution that asked them not to visit Ketchikan, and reminded merchants that they had the legal right to refuse to do business with them. Many stores had signs with messages that made it clear Greenpeace was not welcome.
Once in Ketchikan we stocked up on groceries and then waited a while for a table for dinner. After dinner we waited some more and at 11:00 pm we checked in for our ferry. After waiting some more we were loaded onto the ferry at 12:50 am. We expected to wait even longer, but to our amazement the ferry departed on time at 1:15 am (this was the first time a ferry had departed on time). We decided to try to sleep on the solarium again, but this time we were prepared and brought our air mattress. We inflated the mattress and finally got to sleep.