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Outer Coast Longlining…

View of Cross Sound and Fairweather Mountain Range

In an attempt to get caught up on posts well beyond over due, after a busy summer, I’m going to start all the way back in May and work forward.  In the hope that I will get caught up with all my updates before winter is in full effect and I find most of my free time spent editing skiing and snowboarding photos.

Last May I took a week long trip on the F/V Morgan Anne with Jason Kohlhase and his crew on their last longlining trip of the season for Black Cod (aka Sablefish) and Halibut.  Longlining, for those who are unfamiliar with this type of fishing, is as the name suggests a long line, aka a skate, of weighted ground line that at set intervals has a baited hook that sits on the bottom of the ocean.  A set is marked by a buoy/flagged marker at each end, attached on both ends to an anchor with the skates of gear in the middle.  This style of fishing is slightly indiscriminate in that it attempts to target a specific species by depth and location, but results in a certain amount of by-catch (non-targeted fish being caught). The majority of the fishing took place in Cross Sound, 75 miles west of Juneau, for Halibut with a day-and-a-half on the Gulf of Alaska.

The weather was gorgeous for the entirety of the trip.  I brought along a borrowed 11 foot ridged-hull inflatable skiff, thanks Art, that I used to get shots of the boat running gear and hauling fish aboard from outside the boat.  With the great weather I was able to be launched from the boat multiple times with ease, but it proved challenging to take photos and drive the skiff at the same time.  The week went by with many viewings of the Fairweather Range.  The Fairweathers are probably one of the most dramatic mountain ranges on the planet as they rise directly out of the Pacific Ocean, with Mt. Fairweather topping out at 15,000+ ft.  Mt. Fairweather was named by Capt. James Cook in 1778, in undoubtedly uncharacteristic weather for the region, as the mountain is rarely visible due to the almost constant colliding of weather systems coming off the Gulf of Alaska, leaving the mountain shrouded in clouds.

The trip wrapped up with me driving the boat through the middle of the night from the edge of Cross Sound to Swanson Harbor to ring in my 30th birthday.  The late night drive was highlighted by humpback whales bubblenet feeding in Icy Strait just off Lemesurier Island at 3 in the morning, and a spectacular sunrise on the Fairweathers.  Hands down the most memorable start to a birthday.

F/V Morgan Anne

Big John, Kevin, and Jon set halibut gear in Cross Sound.

Big John mans the roller.

Big John yards a halibut aboard.

Halibut being hauled over the roller.

Cleaning a good sized halibut.

Halibut waiting in the hold to be iced.

Kevin ices down the halibut in the hold

Jon throws the grapling hook to bring in a set.

Kevin and Big John haul in a big halibut.

A wave breaks in the wake of the boat with the Fairweather Range in the background.

Jon holds a black cod.

Kevin cradles a large black cod.

Big John holds a halibut.

The F/V Morgan Anne tied up in Elfin Cove for the night.

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