Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Bonnie’s Great Fishing Adventure!

You simply can’t go to Cordova Alaska and NOT go fishing. That’s all that there is to it!

The town depends on its fishing industry.

It’s also one of the world’s largest aquaculture areas, where fish are hatched in hatcheries, and released when they are “old enough” to survive on their own and keep the sea full of fish. Believe me, I learned more about commercial fishing and the environment than I ever thought I could in 5 whole days :cD

Hunting is also a huge way of life. I never had a single hormone-laced feed-lot fed meal the whole time I was there. Grown in the wild, caught in the wild --- nature at its best!

No chicken, but I had duck! Duck sausage was even awesome!

No beef or pork, but I had deer and moose!

And of course..the seafood was my main stay--I miss it!

Thursday Julie and Jerry offered to take me out Halibut fishing in their boat, the Julie Ann!

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This picture was AFTER the rain had stopped….it was coming down in buckets on and off from the time we left the dock --

And for those of you who have asked WHAT they needed my shoe size for….here ya go!

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Say hello to the official footwear of Alaskans everywhere! Xtra Tuf Boots! Seriously, everyone wears these everywhere ALL THE TIME. From little kids to old grand parents…I was so happy that they found a pair of these for me to wear while hiking and fishing! My feet were dry and happy --- which made ME happy!

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Here we are headed out of the harbor and into open water….

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Jerry, our captain at the wheel! It was freezing cold outside --- but the inside of the cabin was warm and toasty!

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This little sea otter paused to see what these crazy folks were up to, trying to go fishing in the rain, with a very un-experienced fishing quilter on board! I’m sure he was thinking “LOTSA LUCK!!”


Even the seal couldn’t believe we were out on this completely yucky day! But it was the ONLY day we had time to do this, and we were not going to waste it!

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First job….UNTANGLE THE LINE!! Someone had borrowed the line before, and don’t you know it takes quilters to know how to unknot it? :cD Don’t you love my green rubber rain gear and the super huge orange gloves?! They kept my hands warm, but I felt like an alien..LOL

At this point it was really cold and raining! Get tough, Bonnie! You can do this…no wimping out!

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Salted herring was our bait! I dug them out of the bucket and Julie cut them in half, getting ready to bait the hooks.

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These are the hooks! We were putting out a commercial 30 hook “skate” or line….even the hooks have to be placed just so, so their leaders don’t tangle in the bucket. Always remove a hook from the LEFT--

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Julie, showing me how to bait the hook, run it through the fish once, and back up again --- just like pinning the quilt to the leaders on the long arm. Through and back up again!

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Yeah, I did it too! Jerry? He just watched. I’m sure he had a chuckle or two watching this landlubber massacring the bait. That salt dried bait is as tough as leather, it’s not as easy to get the hook through and back through again as you would think!

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Hang the hooks off the side of the boat until you have them all baited….and then we’ll clip them on to the “skate line”.

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Yep, I learned to clip those on too, and I got pretty good at it! Put one about every 15 feet of line or so….and over the front end of the boat the line goes. Come on Halibut!! Where are you?!

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The rain stopped and I got hot…so off with the hoods! While floating around we loaded up bait on some poles and tried fishing that way too. And we talked and we laughed—The weather cleared and then got rainy again, on and off, on and off…

And before we sailed back in, we had seen GORGEOUS rainbows looking back toward the harbor. Isn’t there a life lesson there? We would have COMPLETELY missed those if we had wimped out due to the weather.

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This was just a very humbling pinch me moment. Here I was….floating in the ocean, amidst these majestic mountains in ALASKA for cryin’ out loud. The world is so large and I felt so small and full of wonder at nature’s beauty. Even in the midst of storms.

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Looking back toward the harbor…can you see these clouds just hanging?! And the water was not really smooth either ;c) This is what it’s really like to live. Just GET OUT THERE. Don’t always wait for things to be “just right” to go --- JUST GO!! Or you might miss it!

We gave up on our poles and reeled them in. Nothing was biting. That was okay!

We began to real in our skate line ----and UHOH!!

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Our baits were COVERED with star fish!! I’d only ever seen DRY star fish before, not live ones…and the ones I was used to did NOT have this many arms!

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This is the underside! And those little hairy things were moving around just like live vermicelli!

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And HOLY COW! Look at the size of this one! You can see it was right on our bait….

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This is the underside of him! WOW!! Is it any wonder that the Halibut weren’t after our bait? We’d landed it in a field of star fish..LOL! There was no way for the halibut to bite if they were covered by star fish. At least that is my excuse anyway. Who’d want to eat that thing first?

It was okay with me. Seriously. If you catch it, you clean it, and then you’d have to ship it home…..This way I had all the fun without the fuss!

And now, the work REALLY began. And it’s official……I am the NEW line-reeler-upper!

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The line has to all be coiled just so, so it won’t tangle the next time you let it out! Boy was that a workout for both hands coiling it into the bucket. I actually thought they could use a gadget from knitters to coil it all back up again, don’t you think so? :c)

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Pulling back into the harbor ---What an awesome experience! I’ll never forget this! And maybe NEXT TIME, we’ll actually catch something ;c)

Thanks Julie and Jerry!


  1. Thanks for solving the shoe size mystery! Love the color combo of brown rubber boots, green rubberized raingear and orange rubberized gloves. Do your quilter's eyes see a color scheme?
    Those starfish are incredible--especially that huge one. What a memorable day!!

  2. Thanks for sharing your fishing trip with us, Bonnie! I felt like I was there! Fun!

  3. Love my Xtra Tuffs!! I get the strangest looks when I wear them down here in Seattle, but the are so comfortable and dry in the nasty weather. My kids have been wearing them since they could walk, it took a long time for my 7 1/2 year old to learn how to tie his shoes because he was always wearing his Xtra Tuffs.
    Looks like you had a fantastic time in AK again. Next time you'll have to explore Southeast Alaska and the amazing small towns in the panhandle.

  4. Loved reading your post. My dream vacation would be to cruise to Alaska and go fishing!

    My older brother has gone several times and they stay in a floating fishing cabin for a week. Have seen some of his videos and SO jealous lol.

  5. What a great memory.....I am blown over by the
    generous folks you met in Alaska.....what adventures you had!

    Did the quilting ladies have a ball together?
    I bet they'll be talking about their Bonnie classes for years!

    Happy Sewing :0)

  6. Oh my Gosh Bonnie! What an adventure. Those starfish were amazing. Did you really ship one home? Glad you got the experience.

  7. Looks like a really great day and I'm glad that you were able to have the experience. Thanks for taking us along on the boat.

  8. I can just see the line coming in and winding as if it were an over sized hank of yarn! Wind harder ... lots to do!

    Thanks for sharing the adventures.

  9. Anonymous12:45 PM EDT

    Amazing! You packed so much adventure in your short time in Alaska. I've been here 11 years and have never been fishing! Come back soon! Joy (In Wasilla)

  10. That certainly isn't on my bucket list, but as long as you had the opportunity, why not? good for you Bonnie!! Cory is jealous

  11. I used to love to go fishing. My dream is to go deep sea fishing one day.

    I found baby star fish and the beach-threw them back into the ocean. What did you do with the star fish you caught? Were they injured too much to return or are they kept for some reason? Just curious.

  12. Looks like you were trying out for "Deadliest Catch!"

  13. Anonymous3:57 PM EDT

    Thanks so much for sharing your advantures, from the cruise to Alaska and all those ports inbetween. Thanks for giving me a glimse of the world outside of my little burg. Thanks for sharing your patterns and hints (to keep me busy).

  14. I'll start by saying I live in SE Alaska. When I read that the Cordova guild wanted your shoe size my first thought was they were going to get you into a pair of "Alaskan tennis shoes" and they did! Glad you enjoyed your day on the water! But trust me, shipping home a box of yummy halibut would of been well worth the extra effort of cleaning, etc.!

  15. There is nothing so humbling and awesome as the peace you find floating in the ocean...it's somehow almost magical. Great story!

  16. Wonderful post! What an adventure! I will be trout fishing with DH next week and will heed your words.

  17. What a great fishing adventure. The little vermicelli on the bottom of the starfish are called tube feet. He uses them for moving and eating, looks like he was ready to move that food right into his mouth.


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