Bruce Gipple, Owner of Horizon West, let's you know what is happening on a regular basis. Read On....
Camp Sitka 2019
Welcome to Bruce’s first blog for 2019.
May 30, 2019
I know it’s been awhile since my last blog, but like some fur bearing animals, my blog hibernates in the winter time. It’s spring time here in Sitka, it is a time of rebirth as the northern earth breaks out and blooms once more (unlike me who bloomed long ago).We’ve been busy up here, Peggy, Mark, and I, waking up the lodge and boats, moving the winter residents and their cobwebs out. With a little more polish we’ll be ready to go.
As in years past, we are constantly working to upgrade our equipment and facilities while keeping our core operations intact. This winter has been no different. There has been a renovation project on the upper level of the lodge, additional new vehicles to our rental fleet as well as new motors and navigational equipment on the boats. We also purchased another boat as a backup charter vessel, and have equipped it to take clients who wish to explore our freshwater opportunities. I will be Captain on this vessel and love fishing the local rivers and exploring all the nooks and crannies that SE Alaska has to offer.
I am happy to note that this year, we have many of our tried and true veteran employees returning which really helps us old people, (me not Peggy),to keep things running smoothly. Captain Mark Diaz will again be assisting Peggy and I as our operations manager, with his eye on the eventual goal of taking over and continuing our business. Marks job as a manager last year, was a real eye opener for him, and a great help to Peggy and I. We’re excited to have him back in the same capacity.
We also welcome the return of veteran Captain’s James Hollingshead and Kyle Parks, with their years of experience that will help you make the most of your fishing adventure. There will be a couple of new Captains added to the ranks this year. Both, however, come with much preloaded experience. Dylan Rienhardt has worked for us the past 3 years, has been promoted to Captain. He brings with him a wealth of knowledge from 3 of our Captains that he has work with in the past. In addition, we welcome Captain Trevon Sater to our club. Trevon comes to us from Kain’s Fishing Adventures where he was trained in the wily ways of a feared fish assassin. They are both a welcome addition to our fleet and a great compliment to our Cast of Characters.
Also returning for a repeat performance is my sidekick (you can call him Tonto) Joe Zimmerman to help me run the Huntress, which, I could not do without his help.
Liz Schuessler, whose smiling face and great work ethic helps keep the lodge running smoothly has returned as a Lodge Assistant again this year. Liz will be joined by new hires Kristina Sater and Stephanie Smith, expectations for our lodge operations are running high. I almost forgot to mention that after a 1 year hiatus, Mat has returned for a repeat performance as the Bulgarian Butcher, or, as you know him our Fish Processor. Mat has a great work ethic and we really, really missed him last year and are excited to have him back.
OK, now to the real reason your reading this report, the FISHING. The answer to that is YES, there will be fishing this year. Thank you for reading my report.
I suppose that’s not quite enough so here’s the rest. As you may have experienced or heard our King salmon fishing last year was less than Steller. Without beating around the bush too much, how can I put it? Hmm, IT SUCKED. The bottom fishing was really pretty damn good during that time, which really helped, but the lack of Kings left a lot of questions for this year. The early season predictions for 2019 were for a slight uptick from last year and our early season efforts for salmon seem to suggest that they may be correct, and maybe just maybe, it might be even a little better. Boats have been averaging 2-4 Chinook per trip, which is not quite up to historic levels but much improved over last year. Still being early in the season, however, leaves hope for even more improvement to come. While we are expecting better returns this year over last, next year is when predictions are for a return to more historic levels. So far the Kings hitting the dock are of an average size, 15-18 lbs.
Bottom fishing, for our, denizens of the deep, has also started out strong with plenty of Halibut, Sea Bass, Lingcod, and Yellow Eye for all. While we haven’t seen any real monster halibut yet, the tasty “chicken critters” do seem very thick and healthy.
Our fishing season always starts out in May with my favorite fishery, Steelhead. The boys and I took our Maiden voyage this year north of town to a little creek called Ford Arm. Normally our Steelheading here in SE Alaska is not really “stream fishing”, it’s “creek fishing” as these coastal streams are very small, which at normal levels, makes for an extremely challenging fishery.
This year, with a mild winter and little snow pack, creek fishing was more like mud puddle fishing. The fish that were there, were very spooky. Extra stealth mode was required. We did, however still managed to hook around 10 fish, and landed 6 of them, all good average fish of 8-10 pounds. Next week we’re headed to stream destinations south of town in Whale Bay.
Well, that about covers our early season start. You’ll want to stay tuned for more occasional blogs from yours truly, but on a more weekly basis, Captain
Mark will be posting video blogs. Mark is a master with the camera, and will be posting videos and pictures all summer long. I hope we get a chance to see you all (y’all), this summer, but if you can’t make it, please keep in touch as we love hearing from all of you.
As always, Keep wishin’ to go fishin’
PS: a special shout out to my good friend and client, Mikey Mehl who is making a marvelous recovery from what I’ll call a really really bad brain fart. Keep fighting Buddy. You’re doing Great!