Thursday, June 23, 2011

Alaska Trip 2011: Southbound in Ernest Sound & Clarence Strait

Day 23:  Moving towards Tongass Narrows and we find Orcas!  60-miles

Thom's Place will become a wonderful Alaska Marine Park.  It is beautiful.  Apparently the crab also like it here, based on the number of commercial crab pots.  It was fun to watch the fisherman aboard the Heidi J work their boat and filling a plastic barrel in only ten-minutes.

The Heidi J - typical Southeast Alaska crabber successfully finding Dungeness.

Stacey bet us he could get a crab with a fishing pole & chicken.   Not so easy!

Today we are taking Cinnamon Girl towards Ketchikan, down through Ernest Sound and then south past Meyers Chuck into Clarence Strait.  This is really pretty country with larger passages than we found up north.

Immmature Bald Eagle and Harbor Seals on Blanche Rock.

The water color has changed significantly from the area around Wrangell.  Where the Stikine River with its silt flows brown, the waters of Blake Channel and Ernest Sound are deep azure blue with good visibility.


A very large group of Dall's Porpoise came to play in Cinnamon Girls bow wave.  This photo shows two porpoise with the more classic V-rooster tail splash on the right, and a rare leap out of the water at left.  This pod stayed with us for twenty minutes, very cool mammals.

We had some debate about how far to travel, Stacey was flying out of Ketchikan the next day, but we could always get up really early... In the end we decided to keep pushing south as the day was beautiful and we were not reay to stop.  I looked at the tide table and we were going to be near Ship Island at high slack water, and that is reportedly a good trolling spot.

We finally had a "strike" at Ship Island.

Once again all the indicators for salmon were here, baitfish, slack high, a strike, tide rip...wait...did he say "strike".  It is true, we had our first salmon strike and it was over just that fast.  He was gone along with the bait.  We did a quick reset when Cindy said "whales"!   A pod of Orca's was also working this tide rip.  

We tried to figure out the pod size, guessing 12-18?

Mother and a calf.

Leap of faith or just showing off?


Spy hop, where the whale puts his head up to look around.

Tale slap.  One of the whales was very vocal.

We finally found two things we had been looking for; salmon and Orca's.  Unfortuneatly it is tough to catch a salmon while they are hiding from the top alpha predator of the ocean... that is the Orca for those of you that were trying to decide if the alpha was the whale or me...

A fantastic day with Alaska wildlife putting on a private show.  It would have been nice to get that salmon but it was awesome to spend nearly two-hours drifting with a pod of Killer Whales, engine off and no other boats around for miles. 

We docked at Knudson Cove near Clover Pass, just outside of Tongass Narrows.