In our hometown of Seward, Alaska Independence Day is a big event, over 30,000 people come down for the famous Mount Marathon Race and festivities. Usually we try to leave town or hunker down at the house, so we don’t have to fight the crowds.
This weekend was going to be different. We were going fishing with old friends on Friday the 3rd and new friends were coming into town for the weekend to share the experiences of Seward on Independence Day.
Catching fish with friends is nothing new, but we had a truly great day on the Swelltime. Rebecca and I were fishing with Jim (who owns the Swelltime), his son, and our friend Joanna. We headed out bright and early at 6am to catch silver salmon and halibut. In Seward, the silvers start showing up the first week of July, so we were confident a few could be found on July 3rd. Our first stop was Cheval Narrows, there were a few fish on the sonar, but none were biting so we moved over to Pony Cove. Pony Cove and Cheval Narrows are on the outskirts of Resurrection Bay and some of the first stops for silvers as they return from spending a couple of years at sea.
One of the last drifts yielded a surprise for Rebecca, she finally caught her first king salmon! Through the years of fishing with me on the rivers, Rebecca has hooked four kings and only landed one, the one that was landed had to be released because it was foul hooked (not hooked in the mouth and illegal to retain in freshwater). Today was her lucky day, she caught a nice little king that was swimming with the silvers.
By the time the tide switched we had caught 11 silvers, so we decide to head out for halibut. Today’s halibut spot consisted of Jim and I looking at the chart plotter and picking an area that looked fishy. We didn’t feel like driving for hours so our chosen spot was only 15 minutes away. Upon reaching our mark, we motored around while scanning the sonar for the structure and telltale signs of where to find halibut.
Within 10 minutes of fishing we brought up our first halibut. There were a few really strong hits, but most of the fish were in the “chicken” class of fish. We grade our halibut with names referencing their size; starting out as ping-pong paddles, to chickens, then come the turkeys, hogs, and barn doors.
Generally speaking we like to eat halibut under 5o pounds. There are a few reasons; they are younger fish which tastes better, larger fish have a higher potential for mercury, and almost all halibut above 50 pounds are females which makes them the breeders. I used to be a charter captain and I completely understand the thrill of bringing in a huge halibut. Nowadays we get a bigger thrill in releasing the big ones, the following weekend Jim fished Montague Island and released a halibut over 200 lbs..
The chicken bite continued nice and steady, we kept some and released some as we approached our limit. We tried holding out for larger fish, but they never showed. With one fish to go our friend Joanna got a world-class backlash, we tried to pick it out and ended up having to cut it apart. Once it was resolved (30 minutes later), we all had a good laugh.
On our way back to the barn (the nickname for the harbor) we swung by Pony Cove to see if the salmon were hitting better in the afternoon, and they were not. There were still the same five boats fishing there and nobody was catching.
We returned to the dock with a respectable load of fish. Once all the salmon and halibut were filleted we each walked away with about 16 pounds of meat, not too shabby.
Earlier in the day some new friends came into Seward for the holiday weekend. There are over a dozen full-time RV bloggers in Alaska for the summer and it’s been great getting to meet all of them. The week before we shared a meal with Spencer and Rachel from Where in the World RV. This weekend Jason and Kristin from Snowmads were taking up residence in our driveway while Chris and Cherie of Technomadia (who are traveling nomadically while their bus gets a full makeover) were staying in our guest room before catching a cruise ship south to Vancouver.
We saved some freshly caught salmon and halibut for a special dinner. The Apollo Restaurant in downtown has a “Catch of the Day” special, you supply the fish and they supply the rest. At $18 per person this is the best deal in town, especially since a burger and fries will cost your about the same. They start you off with a salad and bread sticks, then come the panko crusted deep-fried salmon and halibut, the main course is grilled salmon and halibut served with a tarragon sauce and pasta or potatoes. I dare you to leave room for dessert after this feast. Another new friend met us for dinner as well, Chris Travels is in Seward for the summer working and making his YouTube videos.
After dinner we had a surprise in store for our guests, watching fireworks from deck of the Swelltime! In Seward, the fireworks show starts at midnight on the 3rd, and yes there is enough darkness at midnight to get the full effect. We all had a great time and dare I say we might do this again.
The following morning as the mountain runners were preparing to race up Mount Marathon, we slept in and had a late breakfast of fresh eggs and caribou sausage. It is great sharing our Alaskan wild game with friends.
After breakfast we headed into town to watch the start of the Men’s race. Mount Marathon has an elevation of 3022 feet and the strongest competitors make it to the top and back down in less than 50 minutes. In my opinion, just climbing the mountain is an accomplishment.
The following morning we had one final treat in store for our out-of-town guests, the most amazing crepes this side of the Atlantic!
We were very thankful to share the weekend with our new friends. If everything goes as planned we might meet up again this winter. Stay tuned for more details on our upcoming adventure!
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