RRGC Hunting and Fishing Quality Trips

Quality Trip

Each year the Club sponsors a drawing for a quality hunting or fishing trip and the winner plans the trip, decides what type of game or fish will be taken, where the trip will take place and when the trip will be scheduled during the year of award.  The Quality Trip rules and brief descriptions of previous Club member trips can be seen by clicking on Quality Trips.

Each year the Club holds a drawing to determine the winner of the Quality Trip and contributes $2000 to cover the expenses for the trip.  For more information about the Quality Trip please review the Quality Trip Rules and look at member trips that have been taken.  The winner must present a program, describing their Quality Trip, at a General Meeting of the membership in February or March prior to the next RRGC Wild Game Dinner. Also, the winner must provide a written summary of the completed trip, including logistical details such as travel distances and costs, lodging details and expenses, guide expenses and license costs, name & addresses of lodging & guides, photos and other details.

 

Kirby and Richard's Quality Trip 2018. This trip was taken on the west coast of the state of Washington for the purpose of fishing and crabbing. Over one week period we travelled over 1100 miles exploring the coastline for fishing spots and generally had a good time finding neat places we haven't been before. From sucking up ghost shrimp to fishing to crabbing we did the whole thing while eating some mighty fine meals of what we caught. Our three main stops were Neah Bay, La Push and Westport. A detail report of our trip will be presented  to the Richland Rod and Gun Club in the near future....

 

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QUALITY TRIP                          Kirby and Richard                           2018

DATE                              ITEM                                                  $

07-12-18                            Gas                                               66.34

Tri-cities

===================================================================

07-15-18                           Breakfast                                     29.39                   289.48

 Neah Bay                        Gas                                                 26.35

                                           Gas                                                69.00

                                           Motel 2 nights                          130.00

                                           Makah Tribe use Permit           10.00

                                           Groceries                                      10.79

                                           Groceries                                      13.95

 

07-16-18                          Boat   K'OO                                 300.00                     386.00

Neah Bay                         Captains tip                                 50.00

                                           Fishing cleaning                          20.00

                                           Ice                                                    6.00

                                           Potatoes Chips                            10.00

 

07-17-17                          Breakfast                                       27.45                     360.19

N.B. to La Push              Gas                                                  52.00

                                          Lunch                                              30.00

                                          Motel                                            250.74

 

07-18-18                         Breakfast                                        26.00                    504.53

L. P. to Westport          Gas                                                   61.00

                                         Lunch                                               40.13

              Motel (3 nights)                                                      377.40

 

07-19-18                        Breakfast                                         39.65                       83.85

Westport                       Dinner                                              44.20

 

07-20-18                        Breakfast                                         30.00                      75.25

Westport                       Dinner                                              45.25

 

07-21-18                       Breakfast                                          32.50                    116.50

Westport - Home                Gas                                           84.00            

 

 08-02-18                              Gas                                            50.16

==================================================================

                                                             sub total                 1949.96

 

Misc. 

K crab Endorsement  8.25

R crab Endorsement   8.25

motor oil 5.32

ice  8.12

Crab tackle  42.43

Shark tackle  12.15

Bait (2 days)  14.52

=================================================================

>  50.00

=================================================================

                                                                                              over $2,000.00

 

2017 Quality Trip Report    -    Pat Hallett won the 2017 Quality Trip and Leon Kollman was his partner.

 After a long search and discussions we decided on a trip to Alaska for some halibut and salmon fishing. I

have a friend who grew up with a guy that  thirty-five years ago started a fishing lodge in Petersburg, Alaska so he was a good first point of contact.  Unfortunately, he was already booked for the year but he recommended two other guides and told me that if I could not book with one of them then to try a third guide in Juneau.

We got lucky and booked with Dan of Secret Cove Charters in Petersburg.  Dan only had one four day booking left when we booked our trip with him.  Dan was awesome.  It was like we knew him for a long time and he was so easy going and just a pleasure to be with. Our trip started on July 28 when Leon and I met at SeaTac airport for the flight to Petersburg.  I went through a very thorough TSA inspection (I don't know why they picked on me) but got through it.  We departed SeaTac about 7:25 am and arrived in Petersburg just after 3:00 pm local time (noon PDT).  We went into a pizza joint for lunch.  When we came out the air was consumed by a strong fish smell that would  make you say "Wow", or something worse.  A light wind came up and, thankfully, the smell disappeared.  Petersburg is a commercial fishing town and when the big boats come in to off load, it is good to have a strong stomach.  We walked through town and then down to the boat.  The boat we will be fishing on is a 28' aluminum with twin 300 horsepower Yamaha outboard engines.  We returned to our room at Scandia House Hotel.  (Scandia House is one of only two hotels in Petersburg on TripAdvisor.)

July 29 - our first day of fishing.  There were two gals on the boat with us who had never fished before.  We ran about 30 miles out of  port and anchored in 355 feet of water and dropped our lines.  One gal had said all she wanted was for her friend to catch a halibut but when she hooked into the first halibut she was not passing the rod to her friend.  Same story on the second halibut.  (Yes, she hooked the first two fish).   Smaller halibut could be released until we caught a fish close to the 44" or less size restriction.  The boat captain was intent on us being happy rather than on quickly filling our limits.  We caught our two fish limits of halibut and still had plenty of time left to fish for pink and silver salmon.  The limit is six silvers a day.  We did not catch our limits but we caught a bunch.  We fished for salmon much closer to shore, around the islands.

July 30.  Leon and I had the boat all to ourselves on our second day out.  It was a rainy,  windy, and a little rough, but not bad.  It hadn't rained yesterday.  The weather change made it too rough to fish for halibut.  It was about a 30 mile run out of Petersburg to where we fished for halibut yesterday.  We fished for salmon and caught our limits of silvers weighing between 4 and 10 pounds plus a few pinks.

 

August 1 - our third day of fishing and the weather was very nice.  No clouds, no wind, and the water was flat.   Leon and I were the only fishermen on the boat again today.  Just a great day that went by too fast.  The routine was to fish for halibut first and then go after our salmon. We limited on halibut and silver salmon.  When we arrived at the dock the captain called Coastal Cold Storage (as he has done each day) and they brought down a cart and took our fish to be processed.  They fillet, flash freeze, divide the fish into meal sized portions, and vacuum pack.  The fish will be ready for us to take home.

August 2 was our final day of fishing.  We fly back to Seattle this afternoon.  Two of the captain's relatives from Oregon were on the boat with us today.  They were nice people and were fun to be with.  Again, we caught our limits and had a great time.  The weather was beautiful.  Only one foul weather day of fishing on our trip.

Alaska Airlines allows up to two boxes of fish per passenger.  Boxes can weigh up to 50 pounds and the transport charge is $25 per box.  Additional fish boxes are allowed but the price

per box jumps to $75.  Leon and I each brought back 97 pounds of halibut and salmon.  

Coastal Cold Storage did a great job with our fish.  All we had to do was pick them up and head to the airport, but it is not inexpensive.  Leon and I paid a total of $800 for fish processing and storage.  Another frustration is that we were not allowed to keep halibut over 44".  If you are not fishing on a charter boat, you can keep two halibut of any size (think 100 pound or bigger fish).  We still had plenty of fish to bring back but it isn't clear why Alaska would restrict non-resident fishermen who bring a lot of money to their state and small fishing communities.

A summary of our major expenses for the trip:

 

 Charter Boat for 4 days -             $2,400

 Air Travel, Alaska Airlines -               850

 Lodging for 5 nights -                     750

 Fish Processing, $400 ea. -               800                                       

 Fish Shipping, 4 boxes @ $25 ea.         100

 Total                                        $4,900 (Doesn't include meals, taxes, and tips)

Contact information:  Secret Cove Charters, P.O. Box 1455, Petersburg, AK 99833. Ph: (907) 772-2866.

 Scandia House, 110 Nordic Drive, Petersburg, AK 99833.  Ph: (800) 722-5006.

2016 Quality Trip   Burbank Guides Hunting Trips

 

The Burbank Guide Service provides the blind, pits, decoys and guides. The hunters need to provide their own snacks, hunting clothes, hunting license, Federal stamp, guns and shells.

The hunts took place on November 25, 2016 - ducks, November 26 - goose, December 23 - ducks, and December 26, - goose.

Regan and Ameila Hurlbert won the 2016 Quality Trip and booked several guided waterfowl hunting trips. They booked four hunting trips, two goose and two duck.  They used the Burbank Guide Service and hunted at Pauls Pond.

The first duck hunt was not very good due to warm weather, but the second duck hunt was successful with limits of seven duck each.

 

The two goose hunts were very good with 4 geese each.

 

Costs:

     Duck hunts $350 each (2 hunters, 2 hunts) for a total of $1400

     Goose hunts $300 each (2 hunters, 2 hunts) for a total of $1200

     Total cost - $2582.12

Alaska Quality Trip 2015

 

Winners-          Jeff & Jennifer Gardner

Additional Guests-      Brandt Gardner and Brenden Burton

Trip-               Kenai & Homer Adventure

Dates-               July 17th -24th 2015

Target Species-          Sockeye Salmon and Halibut

Day 1

 

We departed Pasco, WA airport at 6am flew to Seattle, there we took a connecting flight to Anchorage, AK.  Since Anchorage is further west, you gain an hour, which resulted in us arriving there around 10:00 a.m.  We immediately headed to the Rental Car wing of the airport where we picked up the crew cab dodge truck we had rented.  We headed south out of Anchorage towards Soldotna, AK which is approximately 2hrs 45min from Anchorage.  We were excited to see if the Sockeye were coming in strong, which is usually evident by the number of people lining the rivers banks.  Unfortunately, it looked sparse with people, so we headed to check in at the Kenai Airport Hotel.  The hotel was located approximately 15 miles west of Soldotna, in the town of Kenai.  Despite seeing the light number of bank fishermen, we were chomping at the opportunity to hit the river and try our luck.  I readied all we were going to need and we hit the river.  While fishing on the Kenai we like to fish the west side of Centennial Park, located just downstream of the town of Soldotna.  There, we park at the Sports Complex, where they have a $5-7 parking fee, and an easy walk down to the river.  The water was up about 1.5ft higher than we have seen previously, which made it more of a challenge.  We were wearing dry plus waders, which worked much better than hip-boots.  We fished for several hours and caught just a couple.

Day 2

We fished the same area of the river in the morning and again only caught a couple sockeye.  Bored, we decided to check out the mouth of the river to see if more fish were coming in and to check out the neighboring river to the south, the Kasilof.  At the mouth, the dip netting action was slow, but steady.  This made us a little more optimistic, so we decided to go 15 miles to the south and check out the Kasilof.  There we fished at the Crooked State Park.  They will allow you a 30 min grace period before you have to pay to park.  This enables you to walk down to the river and see if it's worth staying.  We talked to several anglers, who hadn't caught anything and also noticed the river was much higher than previous trips.  We headed off to lunch which usually ends up being “Jersey Subs”, a local sandwich shop that has locations all over.  After lunch we headed back to the Kenai and fished the evening, finishing limits for Jen and I, but only a couple for the boys.  We filleted the fish on the bank and put them in zip-locs, and into the backpack.  Back at the hotel we vacuum sealed the fillets and put them into the hotel chest freezer.

We fished the Kenai exclusively this day and what we didn't catch in the morning, we finished off our limits in the evening.  Still the run wasn't hot and heavy as fishing when there are lots of fish, one can limit in minutes.

Day 3

Fishing Technique for Sockeye -     Often called “flossing” you are basically lining the sockeye as they travel past you upstream.  General tackle is a 7-8ft rod with 20-25lb test.  A 6-8ft leader with a 3/0 red Gamakatsu hook is preferred.  Sockeye salmon run up the rivers sides, so you don't have to fish far from the edge.  You don't cast, rather this type of fishing is called flipping, where you pull out extra line with your left hand and flip the line upstream at a 45 degree angle.  Once the line comes perpendicular to you, you sweep the line toward the bank and repeat the process.  You will feel the line twitch when it is drifting or sometimes you will not know you have anything until you sweep your line in.  It will be like hitting a snag, and Fish on!

We fished the Kenai River for a couple hrs. and caught a couple nice sockeye before packing up and heading south to our next trip in Homer.  Homer is located approximately 1.5 hrs. south of Soldotna on the Sterling Highway.  Once in Homer, our hotel, the Best Western Homer, was on the right and we checked in.  Once unpacked we decided to go check out the place and see where our Halibut trip would depart at the next day and get a bite to eat.

Day 4

Day 5

We arrived at the dock at 5:45am to board the 50' Nauti-Lady, a charter boat we booked through Bob's Trophy Charters.  This was a full day trip which allowed us to run approximately 2.5 hrs. out into Cook Inlet for hopefully some access to some nice Halibut.  The seas were calm and it was a bit foggy, but we were at the fishing grounds before you knew it.  The limit was 2 halibut each with a size restriction of one under 29” and one over 29”.  We were catching lots right off the bat, but many were the 28” or less variety.  Jen hooked into a larger fish and ended up landing it after about 20mins and it weighed about 54lbs.  Brandt and I caught and kept our under 29” and continued to fish for our larger fish.  We went to another spot and continued to catch more small Halibut.  Finally Brandt caught one about 45lbs and I ended up with one about 35lbs.  One of the coolest things from this day was what happened at slack tide.  The Halibut came off the bottom and were swimming by in schools, the captain had told me that they would bite a plain hook without bait.  I challenged him to that and he caught one.  So having already limited, we fished for “cod” and had lots of accidental Halibut.  This was a blast.  On the way back we saw whales jumping and sea otters.  That night we ate dinner at some friends of ours restaurant and were excited about doing it again the next day.

Day 6

We arrived at the dock as we booked with another charter for this day.  Again, we arrived at 5:45am, but this time, nobody was showing up.  Concerned, I spoke with another boat captain that was getting ready, who had our captain's phone number.  We used his phone to find out the trip had been cancelled due to an electrical issue on the boat.  We went around to see if another charter had an opening, which none did.  We used the day to explore the area further and look at real estate as we would like to have a house down there.  

Day 7

We packed up and headed north as we will be spending the night in Anchorage tonight.  Once we got to Soldotna, you know we had to check the river out.  We stuffed all our gear into the back cab of the truck and got our gear on.  Down at the river, the fishing was still slow, but we still managed to catch a few Sockeye.  We traveled back to Anchorage and checked into our hotel for the night at Americas Best Value Inn.  Jen and I ran the rental truck back and caught a shuttle back to the hotel.  

Day 8  We caught the shuttle to the airport and headed home.

Lodging (runs $125- $175 per night)

Gear To Bring

Waders, extra rod, extra reel, tackle, rain gear, fillet knife, vacuum sealer, sunglasses, sunscreen, bug spray, hat, backpack, GPS, phone (that works in AK), zip-locs, small rag.

Charter ($265 pppd)

Bob's Trophy Charters 3978 Homer Spit Rd Homer, AK 99603 907-235-6544 contact Diane

Rental Vehicle     Used Enterprise Rental from Airport ($800 plus tax) rented a truck so we could put the wet waders and rods in the back.

Fishing Tips

Run on the Kenai usually starts hot and heavy by the 17th of July.  Well over 1 million Sockeye run up the river.  Limits vary by run size and escapement totals, usually runs 3 - 6 fish per person per day.

Feel free to contact us anytime with questions if you would like to do this adventure. Jeff and Jennifer Gardner

Other Tips

Get an Alaska Airlines Credit card.  They give you one companion fare per year for $99 anywhere they fly.  We bought one at regular rate and the second person flew for $99.  You and your buddy can fly round trip for $400 apiece!  Or use the card and build up miles to fly for free.  For your catch, you can get your fish frozen at one of the many processing locations and they will freeze your catch and vacuum seal it for you.  They will put it into boxes that are under 50lbs and then you pay for them as extra luggage.  Much cheaper than paying Fed-ex rates that will be 4x more.  Our fish was still frozen when we arrived home.

 

Quality Trip 2014 Leo Pfeifer and Doug Hitchcock

We decided to go salmon fishing in Puget Sound with Allstar Charters as there was a huge run of Coho returning. We thought about British Columbia but Leo had not got his passport. When we arrived the morning of the salmon trip to Shilshole bay in Seattle it was raining and winds were expected to pick up to 40 knots by noon. The charter captain greets us with news our boats skipper had food poisoning and we would be going on his boat instead.

We met three other folks on board and started north for Edmunds. Neither Leo or I had ever been on a Coho charter in Puget Sound so we thought it would be a learning experience to see what a skipper who was out on the water every day did so we might use some new techniques in the future. In the other party was a ten year old boy who had never caught a salmon. The skipper rigger the four downrigger and poles and suggested we take turns so we let him go first. His grandfather from California was here as his parents were expecting a baby any minute. Well he caught the first silver, then me, then the grand dad, then Leo, then Dad. It rained and the wind came up but we caught seven nice bright silvers. On the way back Dad got a call from the hospital as his wife was in labor ready to have the baby. All went well and they welcomed a new member to their family after a day of salmon fishing.

Since Leo was going back to South Dakota deer and pheasant hunting with his family we booked the hunting trip with Burbank for the week before Christmas. We had gone earlier in December but was too early and birds were not down and had gone after Christmas.  Everything was frozen up and birds moved on down to Patterson.

On Saturday we goose hunted with guide Tim and everything in the pit blinds worked really well. He called and flagged and landed enough for our group to get our limits by eleven o clock. I got a band on a Clackler that was banded in Alaska in 2001 making it over fourteen years old and was the only cackler in the lesser flock. The McNary Refuge had mowed some of their grain and a lot of the birds were staying in close including a large flock of snow geese. We met two hunters in our blind from the Everett area and asked them to join us at Washington Waterfowl to shoot at Kenore Gun Club.

On Sunday we duck hunted on Paul's pond with guide and owner Paul Sullivan. The weather had begun to turn bluebird and Paul was concerned about how many birds would come to the ponds. He has fields of various grains planted around the ponds to attract the ducks. We hunted out of a portable blind with natural foliage camo sitting right on the edge of the pond with three dozen decoys. The birds came back in singles and doubles and only one left. We had two retriever who were very experienced and took turns retrieving.  While they have a $5.00 pool for anyone who shoots non greenheads on this slow day Paul had us take whatever opportunity we had. It was a fun weekend and the first time Leo and I had ever stayed in anything but a camper, tent or trailer on any of trips. Burbank donated a guided trip and AERO donated decoys for the RRGC Wild Game Banquet coming up in March.

 

2013 Quality Trip - Kirby Hammond and Richard Sharp

The first part of this Quality Trip was to go fishing off the coast of Northern California.  The reason I chose Northern California is because I have a good fishing friend there.  We drove to Trinidad, California on the 4th of June and fished on the Toni Ray the 5th and 6th. We fished for rock cod, ling cod and Dungeness crab. We limited out both days. On the second day Richard and I broke out our mighty mite fishing rods. What a blast pulling those fish out of the ocean with our mighty mites.  One of our high lights was cooking Dungeness crab and drinking beer one evening in the parking lot of Motel 6

Quality trip part 2, was a two day fishing excursion for winter silver salmon set up by Dan and Neil Sullivan who accompanied us on the trip! We traveled from Richland to the Chehalis River south of Olympia near Centralia,WA. We stayed at the Ferryman Inn (Nice Hotel) and suites for two nights (close to the launch site). Come morning we met with our Guide Bill Swann of Swanny's Guide service who instructed us on the equipment and strategies for winter salmon - January weather can become a factor.

The first day it was cold, raining and uncomfortable, with temperatures dropping Bill Swann rigged us up with vibrax spinners casting to shore which had produced earlier in the week but only a few fish were taken. Day 2, was a whole different story! With the weather clearing and warming everyone on the boat was hooking salmon, It was "dynamite”. Kirby's big fish was close to 20 lbs. and all others were of respectable size". Swannys jet boat was supreme and set up for comfort and function ability and easily made the run up and down the river through some really shallow water with 5 people in it! I would recommend that if you have the itch for big silver salmon and want to catch them before the year ends you might want to book an outing with Mr. Swann. You won't be disappointed!!

 
Quality Trip 2012 - Leo Pfeifer and Doug Hitchcock

Doug and Leo on 2012 Quality Hunt with CityBurbank Guide Service, Pasco

Doug Sockeye fishing Jim Kline's  Boat

Leo and Doug decided they would try the Sockeye Fishing in Brewster, WA.  They decided on a two day guided Sockeye trip to the Wells Dam/ Brewster area at the mouth of the Okanagan River on the Columbia River with APB Guide Service (Tony Bernsen) Jul 18-19, plus 2 days unguided ($1137) and a Guided Pit Blind Goose Hunt with Pasco's Burbank Guide Service on Dec 15th ($595). After the successful Brewster trip they also decided to go with Tony on a Fall (Aug 21) Chinook Salmon trip on the Hanford Reach

Leo, Kerry, Doug 2012 Quality Trip Brewster Sockeye

Tony with a Summer run in July

Sockeye after being bled out

 

Quality Trip 2011 Goose and Pheasant Hunt - Fishhook Ranch Outfitters Bill Tanner and Lyle Gilk                                                     - November 2011 - January 2012

At the Wild Game Dinner, I was the winner of the quality hunt. I selected Lyle Gilk as my hunting partner. I really wanted to shoot a goose and Lyle was supportive of this idea. Last time Lyle and I hunted geese, we went through Eagle Lakes Resort. I wanted to try someone different this time. In the fall of 2011, David Neff of Fishhook Ranch Outfitters made a presentation to the Rod & Gun Club about his guide service. After his presentation, I spoke with David and expressed an interested in several day trips for geese. We agreed that I would call him and discuss this possibility further. A short time later, I called and we set up our first hunt.

On 11-30-11, Lyle and I met Dave at his home out on the Kahlotus Highway. It was early, about 5:00 A.M. We caravanned out to T&R Farms where we began setting up a whole flock of stuffers. It was dark and we could hear numerous ducks that appeared to in the air and on the ground. Just about daylight I heard an unfamiliar noise. I turned around and there was a huge flock of ducks lifting off on the other side of the circle. David estimated there were 6,000 ducks in this flock. We were hunting from layout blinds that morning. I have a lower back injury and spent two weeks recovering from darn blinds. This included two or three visits to the chiropractor. Never again from layout blinds. We saw bazillion geese in the vicinity. There were many flocks that detoured over to take a look but they wouldn't come low enough. I don't know what the problem was as the blinds were well camouflaged. Maybe the weather was just too nice. We finally got two or three birds to come in. I took two shots from the bird's 6' o'clock with negative results. That was it for the day.

On 12-07-11, my back recovered well enough to try it again. We set up on a circle off the Burbank road that goes to Waitsburg. We were in pits this time, about 1 mile N.E. of the Burbank Sloughs. There were some birds but it became very foggy, which resulted in no visiting birds. The fog did briefly clear and we were rewarded by a small flock of these elusive geese. These birds were enticed by the famous and renown goose caller, Bill Sanders. The birds were on the left; I was on the right side of the pit and did not fire. Lyle knocked down four geese. Way to go Lyle!

On 01-31-12, we went on a pheasant hunt. The goose hunting didn't appear promising so we elected to try pheasants. David's son set birds in the field. Lyle and I walked through the field. I was on the right, as I am now shooting left handed. David had a great dog, which was a lab. I think we got 7 birds up and bagged four. That was great. These were the first pheasants I had shot since high school, which was over 40 years ago.

All but two birds were donated back to the club for the Big Game Dinner. My wife Janice cooked two of the pheasants. She soaked them in brine overnight and then used orange peel, parsley and garlic for additional flavoring. They weren't bad.

 

2010 Quality Trip

 

Salmon/Halibut Fishing Trip - Winter Harbor, British Columbia

Paul Kison and Lloyd Zinsli - July/August 2010

The selection of an appropriate quality trip for 2010 was again the most difficult part of the program.  We considered a pig/deer hunt in Texas, tuna fishing off the Oregon coast, largemouth bass fishing in southern Mexico and a salmon/halibut trip in British Columbia.  Our final decision was ultimately based on trip cost, timing, and the ability to bring back part of our catch for the Wild Game Dinner.

Wednesday, July 28, was spent at Costco and WINCO procuring food, refreshments, and final packing for the trip. We departed the Tri-Cities for Winter Harbor, British Columbia at 10:30 AM on Thursday, July 29.   We were able to get on the 8:30 PM ferry to Nanaimo.  The ferry arrived in Nanaimo, "Duke Point" at 10:30 PM where the decision was to drive to Campbell River before finding a spot to sleep.  We spent the night in a grocery store parking lot.  After coffee and pastries, the early Friday drive to Coal Harbor was uneventful.

                                           The trucks and boats were filled with fuel before launching at Coal Harbor.  The boat trailers were stored near the launch.  The tide was out which precluded crabbing before the hour and one half trip to Winter Harbor.  The trucks were shuttled to Winter Harbor with our food, freezer, fish packaging supplies, clothes, etc.  The late afternoon and early evening was spent checking poles, reels, etc. and getting bait thawed and prepped for our first day of fishing.

Saturday, July 31

Saturday was our first day of fishing.  We left the dock at 5:30 AM and had our lines in the water by 6:20 AM. We used medium heavy rods with level wind reels with 40 lb. braided line and a "knuckle buster" with monofilament.  We used flashers with cut plug herring and flashers with "hoochies" and cut plug herring off the downriggers at 90 to 280 foot depths.  The "knuckle buster" was rigged with a 4 to 6 oz trolling lead and cut plug herring with/without a "hoochies".  Fishing was very slow for the day.  Paul did land a 21+ lb. Chinook in the middle AM which we kept to appease the fish gods and assure we didn't get skunked on the first day.  All our hooks were barbless to facilitate the easy release of small fish.  We hooked and released 12-14 small kings, lost a 15 lb. halibut at the boat and kept one medium sized rock fish.  

Sunday, August 1

The day started at 5:30 AM with thick fog but very little wind.  The smoother water conditions allowed us to travel several miles north of the lighthouse to an area where other fishermen reportedly got good fish on Saturday.   It turned out to be another slow day in our search for bigger fish.   Lloyd caught a 10+ lb. coho on the knuckle buster and 9-10 small salmon which were released.  Paul caught 8-9 salmon including a 15 + lb. Chinook which were all released.  Neil hooked 8-9 small salmon and kept a 20+ lb. king and 11+ lb. silver before we called it a day.  

Monday, August 2, The fishing was very, very slow.  The winds were from the northwest at 20-25 knots with some stronger gusts.  The high winds produced big rollers which started in the early morning and lasted throughout the day.  We caught and released 12-14 small Chinook and 8-10 small coho but had no keeper salmon at the end of the day.

Tuesday, August 3, The winds diminished overnight and the water was much smoother today.  Paul got a king in the morning and Neil and Lloyd each got a halibut.  Everyone got a lingcod fishing in the bait balls near the bottom.  Lloyd got a 14+ lb. coho after lunch.  By days end, we caught and released 13-15 small Chinook, 8-10 coho, 3 small halibut and 2 undersized ling cod.

There was a report that a commercial guide and 3 customers had not returned from their trip on Monday.  They apparently were anchored and fishing for halibut south of the lighthouse.  The speculation was that the boat was swamped by a large wave and went under with the anchor line still attached to the boat.  The Coast Guard had a plane searching along the beaches in PM.  According to Phil Wainwright (our landlord) who is a long time resident of Winter Harbor, it was the first lose of life in a boating accident in more than 20+ years.

Thursday, August 5, The weather was very good all day with wind at 5-10 knots and minimal fog in the AM.  The fishing was best of the week.  Lloyd started the day with a 20+ lb. king and added another before our lunch break.  Neil landed another 20+ lb. king in mid-afternoon.  All of us caught a "keeper" coho with Paul getting two for the day.  Paul also landed a 15+ lb. halibut to finish our halibut limit of two per person.  Another 19-21 smaller salmon were caught and released during the day.

We also brought in a total of 5 rockfish and released a 25" lingcod and two halibut at 12 and 25 lbs.  The bigger halibut would have been nice to keep but we had kept a smaller one earlier to fill our limit.

Wednesday, August 4 We had our lines in the water by 6:30 AM and by 7:15 AM both Paul and Neil had each landed a king.  Everyone hooked and landed a halibut by mid-morning with Lloyd's being the biggest at an estimated 30 lbs.  Lloyd put a 13+ lb. coho in the fish box in the late morning.  Neil finished the morning with another keeper coho and a lingcod. Paul landed a 26 ½ lb king in the afternoon which turned out to be the trophy salmon for the trip.  Neil and Lloyd were very disgruntled with their loss of "big" fish before the day's fishing ended.  Again, we released 17-19 smaller salmon throughout the day.

The Coast Guard had a cutter, plane and a helicopter continuing their search for lost boat and fisherman.  They had no success in finding either the boat or any survivors.

We had an outstanding buffalo prime rib, mashed potatoes, carrots and salad for dinner.  We invited Phil, Pat, and Daniel to join us for our special dinner.  Pat was very gracious and brought us an angel food cake with fresh strawberry based frosting.  No one went to bed hungry.

Friday, August 6, The morning fishing was enhanced by a lack of wind but it was very foggy early.  The fog did not hamper the fishing.  Everyone put a coho in the boat with Paul getting two. Neil got an 18 lb. king.  Lloyd landed an 18+ lb. king and a legal ling cod.  However, Lloyd lost what was probably the biggest king of the trip.  Needless to say, he was not a happy fisherman and filled the boat with some "choice" language.

Our day's fishing ended shortly after noon.  The boats were packed with crab pots and returned to Coal Harbor. We watched a family of humpback whales playing (feeding) on the trip back to Coal Harbor.  The tide was favorable for crabbing.  We set eight pots baited with fish heads and filleted salmon carcasses.  We collected limits of legal sized crabs before it got dark.  We spent the next six hours cooking crabs on the dock in the first rain of the week. Per British Columbia fishing rules, the crabs must be transported as whole crabs.

Saturday, August 7, We retrieved our crab pots and collected the remainder of our possession limit (12 each) and finished cooking them before the trucks arrived from Winter Harbor.  We loaded boats, flushed salt water from the engines, washed off the boats and trailers of salt water and departed Coal Harbor at ~11:30 AM.  We were lucky and got the 5:45 PM ferry from Nanaimo back to the mainland.  Traffic was nominal so we decided to drive to at least Snoqualmie Pass before stopping.  Since our chauffer was alert, we headed for home.

Sunday, August 8, The caravan arrived in the Tri-Cities at ~3:30 AM.  Lloyd and I slept at his house until ~7:30AM, had breakfast and segregated fish, leftover food, fishing gear and personal gear.  We caught well over 200 salmon and bottom fish making this another successful adventure thanks in part to the Richland Rod and Gun Club.

Our catch included:

Chinook Salmon     Silver Salmon     Halibut     

Ling Cod      Vermillion/Rock bass     Crabs

Expenses:

Licenses (2 Five Day licenses with salmon stamp)           $150.00

Ferry to Vancouver Island                                                 230.00

Return ferry from Vancouver Island                                  260.00

Food for Evening Meals/snacks, etc.                                 320.00

Diesel for Truck (roundtrip)                                               405.00

Trailer storage at Coal Harbor Launch                                 40.00.

Boat Gas                                                                           610.00

Bait, tackle, leaders, hooks, hoochies, etc                           150.00

Lodging ($500 each for 8 days)                                       1000.00

                                                                   Total           $3165.00

 

2009 Quality Trip

 Florida Tarpon Fishing Trip -  Paul Kison and Lloyd Zinsli - June 2009

The selection of a fishing guide for our tarpon trip to Florida was the most difficult partof the process.  We tried to use internet searches, personal references and had several discussions with the guide regarding his success ratios and overall tarpon successes.  Our research indicated that the moon phase and tides were favorable for tarpon along the central Gulf coast of Florida which was confirmed by our selected guide.

We departed Pasco for Tampa, Florida via Salt Lake City on Delta Air Lines on Friday.  The checked bag fee on Delta was $25.00.  We used Budget for our rental vehicle.    We had an uneventful drive to Bradenton, Florida where we stayed with Paul's brother, Bruce, and sister-in-law, Anna Marie.  Their home is approximately seven miles from the beach and marina area which is located at Holmes Beach on Anna Maria Island.

Saturday was spent acclimating to the change in time zones, buying groceries, boat shoes, light weight shirts, sun screen, etc.

 

Sunday was our first official day of fishing.  Lloyd, Paul and Bruce met our guide, Rick Gross, at 7:30AM at the marina dock.  He was thirty minutes late. We spent the morning fishing with live bait (philchers and threadfin shad) under the Skyway Bridge which spans Tampa Bay from St. Petersburg to Bradenton.  The new bridge replaced the original span which was seriously damaged by an ocean freighter in 1980. The method of fishing is much like fishing for sturgeon in the Columbia River.  Anchor up with a marker buoy and cast with the incoming tide.  We did see tarpon “finning” down tide from our boat but we had no strikes.  We did see three hookups and fish were working in our area.  We saw a huge sea turtle near one of the bridge piers.  About noon, thunder and lighting moved into the area so we moved to a more protected inland area and spent the afternoon fishing for snook, redfish, and spotted sea trout (weakfish) with limited success.  Lloyd successfully landed a small ray.

Monday, we meet our guide at 7:00 AM to net bait and to increase our fishing time by reducing the travel time. The third member of our fishing party was Paul's nephew, Robbie. We worked the southwest side of Egmont Key for tarpon with no success.  We hooked snapper, Jack crevalle and a “Pelicano” for both of us. The “Pelicanos” are unique in that they have very long necks, large pouched beaks and feathers.   We saw several pods of tarpon.  Our guide was reluctant to move into the area where other boats were working the fish which was a courteous gesture on his part. We did see one tarpon hookup.  We also worked the area near the north end of Anna Maria Island which feeds into Tampa Bay.  The afternoon weather turned nasty with wind, thunder, lighting and scattered showers.  Our guide chose to move back to the inland areas for snook, redfish, etc.  Both Paul and Robbie hooked several medium sized snook.  Lloyd landed a very impressive 37 inch snook taken on live bait over an oyster bed near mangrove roots.  The fish put up a good fight and for a couple of moments it appeared the snook was going to win the battle.  The snook, by local standards, was a large and very respectable fish.

Tuesday our guide cancelled our scheduled day of fishing due to inclement weather.  We were rescheduled for Thursday.  We made a road trip to a Bass Pro Shop in Ft. Meyers along with stops at two marine suppliers for information and prices and a Costco for “chew” but they don't sell tobacco products in Florida Costco stores.

Wednesday the day was spent fishing numerous inland coves and inlets with Robbie and his girlfriend.  We were primarily looking for snook and sea trout.  The day's catch included a small catfish, redfish, lady fish, mackerel, and several spotted sea trout.  The weather was great in the AM but the PM the wind blew at 20-30 knots which limited our opportunities.

Friday Bruce prepared barbequed sea trout and snapper for brunch utilizing his secret Florida recipe.

We attended the Tampa Devil Rays baseball game in PM.  Bruce was able to use his “connections” to obtain second row seats behind the dugout for us.  Tropicana Field is an indoor stadium which we toured extensively before the start of the ballgame.

Saturday was our travel day which was uneventful with exception of the final rental car fees.  The rental car costs were in excess of $430. It is noteworthy that the Tampa airport tax on rental cars is 16% which seems exorbitant and outrageous.  We did get a small break on refueling charges.

Thursday we netted bait fish near a channel marker and fished near the north end of Anna Maria Island in early AM.  Saw lots of tarpon but got no hookups.  In the mid AM, we moved to an offshore area near Longboat Pass.  Our initial catch included several Bonito, Spanish mackerel and a king mackerel. Paul had the first hookup on a tarpon but lost the fish after only two jumps.  Lloyd hooked and landed a 125 lb. tarpon in early in the PM.  There were lots of tarpon pods working around the boat but we did not entice any further hookups.

Gear for snook, redfish, etc; is comparable to our spinning gear used for steelhead.  The tarpon rigs were heavier poles, large spinning reels with fifty pound test braided line and 6/0 circle hooks.

Trip Summary

Our catch included: Tarpon, Ladyfish, Bonita, Snook, Pinfish, King Fish, Redfish, Snapper, Pilchards, Spotted Sea Trout, Ray, Threadfins, Spanish mackerel, Jack Crevalle, “Pelicanos”, Catfish.

 

2006 Quality Trip Newsletter Summary

 

Rick Freeman who was the 2006 Quality Trip winner. Rick and his son went White Tail Deer hunting in Texas in mid-December. They hunted in two separate hunts, one in East Texas and the other in South Texas. The East Texas site was about 1,500 acres that his family has been leasing for a number of years.

 

Rick hunted with a 6 mm rifle and his son with a .270 WSM. Deer hunting in that part of Texas is conducted in a relaxed manner: a morning hunt, a break to eat lunch and then an afternoon hunt. Because of the winter storm in Denver, the weather in Texas was unseasonably warm. The hunt in the East Texas was conducted from elevated blinds or from the ground. The South Texas hunt was mainly ground hunting. Because of the terrain, the shots were taken at 60-70 yards.

 

Videos of the hunts and terrain were taken by both Rick and his son and were shown at the presentation. Many views of wildlife including deer and two bobcats were shown. In one scene a bobcat was photographed in the midst of several deer who ignored the bobcat until it killed a fox squirrel and carried it through the deer which became disturbed because of the kill.

 

They hunted for five days at the South Texas site and hunted at the East Texas site before and after the South Texas hunt. Because of a drought in Texas in 2006 the antler tines on deer were brittle and many were observed with broken tines. Rick and his son harvested both deer and wild hogs..

 

2005 Quality Trip

Leo Pfeifer and John Arrabito

Fishing Trip to Mexico

Fishing Trip Log

Day One -10 August 2005

 

Departed Seattle for San Jose, Calif.   Didn't have to deplane there.  Second stop:  LAX -There we had to retrieve our luggage and go through checking them all over as Southwest wouldn't check luggage through Aero California.

 

After standing in line for one hour and having luggage inspected we ran into a snag when we tried to check them.   Checker said she couldn't use our driver's license as ID.    Wouldn't accept my reduced version of my birth certificate and wouldn't accept John's expired Visa.     Said we had to go to another department to get proper ID.   When we got there they had already closed so we had to go downstairs to another department.    There the guy looked at our driver's licenses and asked us to swear we were who we said we were and then filled out a form he notarized and said $25.00 each please.   We  went back to the check-in line and finally got our luggage checked through to La Paz.    We then hurried to our gate and were the last ones to board before takeoff.    We then flew to Hermosillo, Mexico, where we had to deplane and stand in lines to go through customs.  Other forms had to be filled out and our $25.00 form shown.

 

Then we finally all got back aboard and flew into La Paz.   We had to open our taped coolers to show what we had in them (thought I was going to lose my Kukabora licorice but they let it go).  Arrived La Paz at 8:30 PM.

 

Hotel Marina is a good hotel with good service.   They don't believe in hand towels or wash cloths though.   Just a large bath towel each. We ate a late meal at the hotel's restaurant and the food there is very good and reasonably priced.

Day Two - 11 August

 We met our charter owner (Francisco), who drove us quite a ways to the marina he works out of.  Our boat skipper (Jesus) was the youngest of three skippers going out that day.   They didn't have a bait boat at the docks so they said we would get it at another place on our way to fish.   After waiting for quite a while at this bay they decided to go across the water to some islands and there they pulled out their own throw seine and used one of the three boats (ours) to get bait.   After about a half hour they had enough they figured to go fishing.   We then went out for

about another 45 minute ride to an area they fish.   The boats spread out and started trolling for blue marlin.   When one skipper came across some doradoes they called one another on their two-ways and they all converged on this school.    

 

 We  arrived at the area and really started catching doradoes.   John hooked three large ones along with many smaller ones.   I caught a lot of small and medium sized ones.   The bite would last for ten to twenty minutes and then the boats had to circle to find them again.

 

About noon our skipper headed away and put out the marlin poles.    We saw one nice marlin and a few (8-10) dolphins, but never had any followers or strikes.   About 1:30 they pulled in gear and headed back to the marina.   We got a receipt for 31 packages of vacuum packed fish that night.    After a good meal at the restaurant we hit the hay around 7:30.    Good day!

Day Three - 12 August

We again were met at 6:15 by Francisco and bussed to the marina.   We had a lot of new people from California on a three day fishing trip.   This time the bait boat was there so we got our bait - rather expensive as they told us to give him $20 for a couple five gallon scoops out of his holding net.    We then headed out to the area we fished on the first day.  We again split up and started Marlin trolling.   We did this for a couple hours before we came across a large chunk of dead fish.   Our skipper turned around and threw out some of the bait as we went by it.   Dorado broke water scarfing up this bait.  We hurried getting in the marlin poles and put out the dorado poles.    These are only a line with a single hook tied on the end with a sardine hooked through the lips.   Our lines were barely in the water when we had a double hookup.   Our skipper was busy telling his buddies where we were so we had to play the fish a while longer than normal as they were too big to just yard into the boat.    Our skipper gaffed the larger ones.   We had good fishing for about 15 minutes and caught five with a couple of misses. It seems odd that when the fish finder saw something floating  we would throw a handful of sardines at it.   If fish did strike the sardines, we put out the dorado poles. 

Our skipper then kind of fished further away from the floating bait while the other boat fished it hard.   They were catching fish like crazy while we seemed to stay out too far.    After a while the fish seemed to go off the bite so out went the marlin poles and we spent the rest of the day trolling for marlin without seeing any.   Again about 1:30 out came the poles and we headed back to the marina.   When we got in one of the other boats came in with a blue marlin (about 80 to 100 pounds).  We got a receipt for 11 packages of vacuum packed fish.

 After a welcome shower John and I took a cab downtown to a bank to get some money for tips.   We then walked to a restaurant  recommended to us as a good seafood place.   The food was very good but was a little spendy.  The check came to about $30 each.   We then walked around and visited some shops, bought some souvenirs and some bottled water and got a cab back to the hotel.   Another good day but a little slow on the fishing!

Day Five - 14 August

Again we all got bussed to our marina and even the owner Francisco and his young daughter  went out fishing.  The wind was blowing quite stiffly so when we got out close to the fishing area our skipper decided to fish close to shore to help keep us from getting soaked.     The first thing we caught (John) was a trumphet fish.   This fish has no teeth in its mouth but had sucked in John's sardine and got hooked.    We slowly trolled out into deeper water, where most of the boats had stopped to fish, and John hooked a nice dorado.   It was a loner but about half an hour later John caught another nice dorado.

Then as we were trolling along the skipper suddenly jumped up and grabbed my pole because  a fish was suddenly following our boat.   John and I thought it was a shark but after the skipper had it hooked it turned out to be a striped marlin.   I fought it for better than half an hour and had it up to the boat all tuckered out.   The skipper reached over with gloves and as he grabbed the line and was lifting it up to grab the bill the line broke.   This was fine with me as we were going to let it go.   We planned to eat some of our dorado that night at the hotel restaurant.

 

We had an excellent meal at the hotel restaurant.   They fixed our own dorado, along with fried rice, fresh cauliflower and broccoli  along with chips and dip and one free drink for $8.00.    I believe they sautéed the fish in olive oil, butter and garlic.   They brought along the mixture in a bowl to dip the fish into.

Day Four - 13 August

We had a bad day on Saturday.    As we got to the docks they were putting in a working bilge pump on the boat we were to be in that day.   The first two they tried didn't work so they then highgraded one from another boat that wasn't going out. After we got our 20 dollar sardines we went on a long boat ride all day and didn't even touch a pole.   We did see a lot of porpoises or dolphins just touring through our area.   It was quite a sight to see them traveling in large groups with some showing off with long leaps out of the water.

 

Wind seemed to kick up a little more as the day went on so our skipper kept working his way back home.   After we returned to the docks we were the only boat with no fish.   Some had caught small marlin and all other boats had some dorados.   We wondered what we did wrong to "tick off" our skipper.

We did have a nice dinner again at our hotel restaurant and then a leisurely stroll along the waterfront before our hotel.  There was a large marina there with some large fancy boats.  There was even a moorage that chartered out large catamaran sailboats.   People fly in and charter a boat for a vacation.

Day Six - 15 August  Again we were with Jesus this morning although only four people were going out and no bait at the dock.   We stopped about half way out at a small beach where we were able to get bait.   We then motored out until we saw some fish jumping and the skipper said to put out the marlin poles.   We trolled for about an hour when all of a sudden we had two nice (Grande) marlin come in behind the plugs.   John's pole went down first and the skipper hit the throttle to full power to help set the hook.   He then grabbed the pole and was setting the hook deeper by yanking the pole, but the line broke. 

 About that time my pole went down and again full throttle and when the skipper said to pick up the pole I did what he had done by trying to set the hook deeper.     I started to get some line back when all of a sudden I came unbuttoned (the fish shook loose from the hook).    About that time we saw a marlin start tail walking a short distance away and figured it was John's trying to spit the plug out.    Later on we saw a marlin jump clear out of the water about a dozen times in a row.   It was a Grande sized one.

We trolled the rest of the day with no luck.   We weren't even able to catch any more dorado.   The other boat caught about 10 smallish dorado though.    We had to eat off the menu that night when we were looking forward to another great meal of our own fish.

Day Seven - 16 August

Our day to return home.    We checked out of our hotel and loaded our two coolers with our dorado.   We had thought at first we could put most in one cooler and be able to keep our beer and bottled water that was left over.   We were wrong, as it took both coolers for the fish so we gave the bellboy a nice tip when we gave him our beer and bottled water.   Bottled water was $1 a bottle!

 

We then were taken to the airport for departure.   We had no trouble getting checked through to LA.    After a short time we saw our plane come in and after 

another short time saw the attendants take a lady in a wheelchair out and put her on board.    Then suddenly they took the lady back off and brought her back to the boarding area.    We then were told the plane had to go for repairs and would be about two hours late.  We sat around waiting and I finally went over to a serving bar and bought John and I a sandwich and soft drink.   John saved his sandwich for later but I had mine before we departed.   We both thought about the two recent plane crashes that had happened over the weekend, so were glad they were going to fix our plane before trying to go on.     We finally departed and had no problems getting to LA.  At LAX we went through customs without any trouble.   When we were asked for our passports we brought out our $25 sheets and the guy said they weren't worth the paper they were written on.   We all had a good laugh and they let us through.

We then had to go to stand-by and see about catching the next available flight to Seattle, as our scheduled flight had already left.    They were able to get us on a later flight with no additional cost but we had about three hours to wait.   John and I then got our luggage checked through to Seattle and went to seek out a bar to spend some time.    We each ordered a large glass of beer and chips.   John started to feel bad so he didn't even finish his beer.   John had eaten his sandwich shortly after leaving La Paz and as it turned out he caught a taste (three days) of Montezuma's revenge. We were able to call our wives from LA and tell them of our changed arrivals.    We arrived around 10 pm and were gladly home.

 

 I hope people at the annual big game dinner get a chance to sample the dorado.    Thanks to the RR.

 

2004  Quality Trip                    Jerry and Arlen's Hunting Trip

Jerry and Arlen hunted with Rocky Top Outfitters (www.rockytopoutfitter.com) of Pigeon Forge, TN owned by Greg Ward. Rocky Top Outfitters caters to individuals visiting the tourist attractions in the Pigeon Forge-Gatlinburg area and the Smokey Mountains. They specialize in short 1/2 and 1 day fishing and hunting trips.  Arlen had taken a one day turkey hunt with them in April 2004 and was very impressed with Greg Ward's knowledge of the land that he hunted and the animals that were on the land.  The turkey hunt was on a 300 acre farm that had open cropland and a wooded high ridge on the south and west side of the farm.

Greg indicated that he would be hunting the farm for deer in the fall and that he had seen six nice bucks wintering on the farm in January, including two nice ten points, one of which was in the 160 B&C class.

 

He told us that if we booked a deer hunting trip with him for the farm for five days, he would not book any archery or muzzleloader hunts on the farm and no others hunters would hunt while we were there. Should we get lucky and finish early we would be able to do some guided fishing in the local rivers to fill out the scheduled days.

Outfitters have different policies about hunting before and during the hunt area you schedule for a hunt and we have learned to ask ahead of time since it's better to not have others disturb the area you are hunting. We asked Greg if the guide or the owner of the farm would be hunting while we were there or before. He told us absolutely not and held to his word.  On our 2002 whitetail deer hunt in Missouri our guide (brother of the outfitter) shot a buck and a doe on the farm where we were hunting while we did not shoot anything.

During the summer, we received periodic updates on the bucks seen on the farm we planned to hunt in Tennessee.  Just two weeks before the start of the hunt, the local game warden saw one of the large ten points and four other nice bucks on a ridge below a cedar thicket.

The primary way they deer hunt in that part of Tennessee is to use tree stands and not walk the area. Greg, the outfitter explained that he doesn't want to put excess pressure on the deer in order to keep the deer on the property. The area is blanketed with farms consisting of wooded areas and crops. If others pressured the deer on adjacent property they would tend to push the deer to our farm and give us more opportunity.

Based on the game warden's report, it was decided to put Arlen's Texas tower stand on the ridge just below the cedar thicket where the bucks had been bedding down.  When Arlen took the stand to the outfitter, he met the guide that would be ours for the hunt.

Our guide would be Benny Carroll who appeared to be a very experienced woodsman and knowledgeable hunter.  He was also an individual that lived off of the land. For his family dinner that evening, his family was eating deer roast and ground hog (wood chuck). Only a few of us out west have enjoyed ground hog in a meal.

The stand was placed on the ridge with a commanding view of a creek, a ridge saddle, a large open hill, and three draws. The outfitter also had several tree stands on wooded ridges that were used by deer.

Opening day came on Saturday morning of November 20. We got up at 3:45 AM and drove to Sevierville when we met Benny at 5:00 AM.  We drove to the farm where Benny sprayed us with scent block and guided us to our stands. We were in our stands by 6:00 AM, a good 45 min before hunting hours. Jerry was in a tree stand on a point off of the back ridge and Arlen was in his tower stand that Benny had put in place earlier.

As dawn came, we heard a number of rifle shots in the areas surrounding us. As the morning progressed, we were disappointed that we were seeing no deer. Finally, at 10:20, a spike deer appeared on the hill in front of Arlen at about 220 yards.  The young buck was given a free pass by Arlen to live another year.

At about noon, Arlen notice that another hunter had came up the pass from the other side of the saddle and was sitting on the adjacent property about 75 yards from him.  A call was made on the walkie-talkie to the guide. Finally, the hunter turned around and was given hand language that convinced him to move.

In a relatively crowed area such as this things can happen you don't expect. At about 2:30 PM, a neighbor, who has a small trailer home lot, decided to target practice with his pistol. Three hours later and hundreds of rounds, the end of daylight ended the shooting.  The outfitter called the game warden that night. It appears that this had happened before and such acts of hunting harassment are not allowed. The outfitter had words with the offender and threatened him with hunter harassment charges.  Fortunately, that ended the target sessions for the rest of the hunt.

 

By the end of the first day we had seen only one spike and came to the conclusion that the bucks were no longer in their early fall bedding area. The bucks had moved into secluded areas just prior to the hunt. Sunday, turned out to be similar to Saturday as far as deer observed was concerned. Arlen saw a wounded spike at about 120 yards. He had a wounded back leg. He was also given a pass.

 

On Monday about noon, we changed the location of Jerry's stand and Arlen moved to a stand on the back edge of the property to try to improve our luck.  Jerry had a whitetail doe walk by on a trail about 40 feet away and the doe never saw him. At about 4:15 PM, a buck started whipping a small cedar tree about 35 yards from Arlen. Due to the trees and brush, a clear shot was not possible.  The buck had 4 points on the right side and a deformed antler on the left side. Shortly after that a doe jumped the fence about 30 yards away.

Tuesday brought a change of weather and it rained most of the day with some good hard rain at times. Jerry stuck it out until noon in the tree stand which had a tree stand umbrella over it. The tree stand umbrellas are a must for hunting in that part of the country. They work great for the frequent rain periods.

That afternoon Jerry moved into a roofed cover or open barn for farm equipment which was well located on a deer path and had view of several deer trails in a hallow. The open barn is shown in the picture. Jerry observed a doe slowly moving on a path toward the barn that eventually walked to within 10 feet away. He saw several does within 50 feet of the barn as he left near the end of shooting time.  Arlen spent the whole day in a tree stand with a tree stand umbrella. The umbrella worked fine after he got there but he was soaked from the inside out by the time he had reached the stand that morning.  No deer were sighted that day by Arlen. We had reached the conclusion that the does were not in estrus and the large bucks were not yet in rut and following the does.

We took Wednesday off to recuperate and Thursday we had a wonderful Thanksgiving Day feast at Arlen and Cathy's.

Friday the weather had turned cold for that area, being below freezing just before hunting started for the day. The low temperatures and first nice day after a hard rain had the deer moving.  The does and fawns were on the move. In the course of the day we saw up to 40 does and fawns, but no elusive bucks.  Our scheduled hunt ended without a shot being fired.

That evening we received a phone call from Greg, our outfitter inviting us hunt on the farm with him and some family and friends on Sunday as a bonus. We took him up on the offer.A client (husband and wife team) had hunted the farm on Saturday. The man had slightly wounded the buck with the misshaped antler but the animal was

not seriously wounded and was not taken.  His wife had a chance at a spike but didn't see the antlers and didn't shoot. With this, we were excited about the chances for Sunday. The bucks were starting to move and those elusive big bucks might be moving also.

On Sunday, our bonus day Arlen took over his favorite tree stand of the first 2 days and Jerry went back to the tree stand on the ridge where he saw the deer on the trail. One hunter of the group was in a ground blind just above where Jerry had hunted in a tree blind for the first day and a half. The hunter fell asleep, (he is kidded a lot about falling asleep) and was awakened by an 8 point buck a short distance away. He got a fast shot at that buck but he missed it. Unfortunately, for the rest of us it was just does and fawns that were spotted for the last day of the early rifle season.

We had a very enjoyable hunt with our guide Benny Carroll and Greg Ward, the outfitter. With a little more luck we would have seen the larger bucks that had been seen a few weeks earlier.  If you want to see the deer up close and personal this type of tree stand hunting is well worth trying.

 

As a prologue: Arlen decided to hunt the farm for deer during the muzzleloader season December 10-12.  Nature turned sour and East Tennessee had torrential rain for December 9-11. He was unable to get to the farm since the creek was at high water and blocked the access road. Arlen tried to hunt another area the first two mornings and gave up due to the weather. A series of storms with thunder, lightning and hail kept passing through the area.  The guide suggested the hunt be delayed until the second rifle season December 18-19.  This trip resulting in more of the same just does and fawns.                     

 

Arlen has decided to book a turkey trip for next spring and deer hunts for the early archer and muzzle loading seasons next fall.  He is hoping to see the elusive large bucks.

 

2003 Quality Trip                             Newsletter Summary

 

Lyle Gilk, was the winner of the 2003 Quality Trip drawing. He gave a slide presentation showing the trip that he and his wife took in November to Minnesota to go deer hunting. They did not bag any deer. They drove and cost of the 12 day trip was $1,700.00. During their trip to and from Minnesota, they counted 78 road killed deer.

 

2002 Quality Trip                           Newsletter Summary

 

Jerry Bloom, partner of Quality Trip winner Arlen Schade. Arlen has moved to Tennessee and was not able to come and give the presentation. Arlen and Jerry participated in a guided five day trophy Whitetail deer hunt close to Hannibal, Missouri. Unfortunately they were only able to harvest a whitetail doe whose meat will be used at the Wild Game Dinner.

2001 Quality Trip                              Newsletter Summary

 

Leo and John left Seattle Sunday, June 23 and arrived in Anchorage Alaska the next morning at 1:45 AM.  They rented a truck and drove to Soldatna where they ate breakfast at 5:00 AM.  They arrived at the the lodge (All Alaska outdoors, Inc.) they were staying at in the afternoon and moved into their cabin.  That afternoon they went clam digging at low tide and harvested 45 clams in an hour.  Leo and John, mainly Leo, did most of their cooking in the cabin during their entire stay.  

 

Monday they fly fished for sockeye salmon on the Kenai River and only caught one fish because the river, due to warm weather, was  at flood stage.

 

Tuesday they fished for King salmon with a guide and two other fishermen from Minnesota.  They only caught one fish.

 

Wednesday they flew to Wolverine Creek Lake.  Sockeye swim up the creek into the lake to spawn.  Each of the four fishermen caught 12-15 sockeye and kept a limit of three fish each.

 

Thursday they fished the Kenai again for 7 hours and got no strikes.

 

Friday, their last day of King fishing, they boated upstream to Bing's Landing where John caught a 40 pound King.

 

Saturday, they fished for Halibut on Cook Inlet.  Their originally scheduled boat was unavailable because of engine problems that injured the skipper while he was attempting to repair it.  Their replacement boat was an old wooden displacement type hull.  However, they did much better than the fishermen in other boats that day.  It took them 2½ hours to arrive at where they fished.  They both did very well.  John caught a 65 and 35 pound halibut and Leo caught a 55 and 30+pound halibut.  Two more fish over 50 pounds were also caught; their last fishing day was 12 hours long.

 

They showed many slides of their trip.  Leo's camera was lost overboard with many of the trip pictures.  They also showed a promotional video that was mailed to Leo especially for the meeting.  Both Leo and John were very pleased with the Lodge.  The Lodge vacuum packed and froze their cleaned fish.  They also donated 50 pounds of sockeye for the Club's picnic barbeque in August.  Cost of the trip was about $1495.00 each plus transportation. The Lodge is All Alaska Outdoors, Inc., Soldotna, Alaska and their phone number is 1-800 646-HUNT

2000 Quality Trip                      RICH AND BEN HOLTEN FOR 2000

TRIP SUMMARY

 

Ben and I traveled to Alberta, Canada for a combined fishing and bird-hunting trip beginning September 6, 2000.  This is a diary of the trip, perhaps more information than needed, but hopefully helpful to others that would like to try Alberta goose hunting.  Club members wanting more information can contact Rich Holten.

Day one was a travel day.  Time to get to Calgary was just under 12 hours.  Crossing the border back then was not a problem.  Guns did not need to be registered as I believe they need to be now.

Preparations for the Trip

Preparation for the trip included research on the Internet, discussions with other hunters who had hunted Alberta, and getting a reservation with a guide (Barry White) for floating the Bow River.  The internet provided a lot of good information including some Alberta government sites which allowed us to get up to speed with hunting regs and to sign up for a very informative mailing from Alberta.  Our trip was timed around being there for the opening day of goose hunting around Hannah.  In that zone, only goose hunting was open.  We would have preferred a later trip when pheasant and sharp tail hunting was open, but Ben needed to be back at Eastern University in mid-September.  Consequently, we did not take a dog with us. 

Equipment for the trip consisted of my truck filled with clothes, minimal camping gear, two large coolers, two cases of American Beer for the ranchers, guns, ammo, and two Final Approach blinds, which were invaluable.  We towed a small trailer with about 3 dozen full-bodied goose decoys.  We did not bring any of Ben's stuffed decoys over concern for getting them wet.  We could have slept in the back of the truck, but Ben got soft on me and wanted to stay in motels.  The club paid for the trip, so I was OK living in comfort.

Day two was a float on the Bow River.  Our guide, Barry White, brought us to a sporting goods store to buy licenses.  The process was not overly difficult, but time consuming.  We were issued an ID number that will save quite a bit of time for the next trip.  Our guide launched about 10 miles downstream from Calgary. First thing in the day we used what looked like a bloodworm under a strike indicator and caught several decent fish.  Ben and I each caught a 20+ inch fish on the bloodworm.  Later in the day, we were throwing a whitish marabou bead-head leach toward the weed line and strip retrieving.  This yielded several good fish. We also used the same leach pattern on a wet fly swing and caught a few more 20+ inch fish.  Based on the number of large fish we caught or rolled, this river has a lot of big fish in it.  Excellent trip.  The river is not at all hard to float.  Anyone with a drift boat or pontoon boat could do the float with a pre-arranged shuttle service.  Barry arranged for the shuttle with a local fly shop for about $40.  This section of the stream would not be great for park and wading - not a lot of access. There are sections of the Bow above Calgary that are much better suited toward park and wade, especially toward the west and approach Banff/Jasper Parks.

 

The third day (which was also the opening day of goose hunting for Alberta) of the trip we traveled about an hour to the east of Calgary to a smallish town called Hannah.  Hannah is somewhat of a goose capital of the Calgary plains and the town and the motels are well suited to handle goose hunters.  There are three motels in town.  One is run by a guy that hunts himself and can help with ideas on where to go.  There will be other hunters staying at the hotel and eating at the attached café.  Everyone was pretty friendly early in the season when the competition is not too stiff.  That morning we began the scouting process.  We simply drove around close to areas with water until we found geese in the air and followed the geese.  We thought we had hit the mother load.  There were easily a couple hundred of geese in the field and another 50+ ducks.  The geese were mostly Speckle-Bellies with a goodly number of honkers and a few Snows. We learned that the Snows come in much bigger numbers later in the year.  When the geese set in, we talked with the nearest landowner to get permission.  The first guy we talked to had about 300 to 500 Canadians and about 50 snows in a wheat stubble field.  They also had ducks using the field and hopping back and forth from the nearby ponds.  We were clued in by others not to try to hunt ducks off of the ponds - something many of the landowners just don't like.  The landowner was exceptionally friendly, but said that his son was coming in the next day from the States for a father-son hunt.  What blew us away was that he also said that if we couldn't find anywhere else to hunt that we could go with them!  He recommended his brothers place for that evening.  Again, permission to hunt was no problem.  We hunted his brother's wheat field and got four geese before it rained.  Right after the rain, the sun came out and put a terrible shine on the decoys.  Not one bird gave us a look at that point.  We did experience a swarm of mosquitoes, so hunters need to remember repellent even in the wheat stubble.

Following that evening hunt, we watched several geese land in another field and got permission there as well.  This field was disked under wheat stubble.  In order to hide the blinds next morning, we dug down about a foot and worked some mud onto the Final Approach blinds.  Before I could get the truck moved, Ben shot two big honkers.  The geese came in small groups, which was just perfect.  In less than an hour, we had limits of eight geese apiece - 14 honkers and 2 speckle-bellies.  It was just awesome.  Ben was masterful on the call and the geese just sucked right in.  It took the rest of the morning to clean all of those geese.  

 

That afternoon and evening, we decided to check other areas.  Further north.  We drove approximately 100 miles north and east toward Saskatchewan and then turned back west toward Calgary.  The country changed from many ponds and wheat stubble around Hannah to varied crops, rolling hills, and only a few ponds.  We saw only scattered groups of geese.  Not very impressive.  We had heard that there were more snows further up north, but we didn't want to go further.  It would have been a full day's drive to the Peace River area where we knew there were geese in the wheat stubble and pea fields, but we decided to head back toward Hannah.

After spending the night about 70 miles north of Hannah, we set out early the next day toward Hannah and again saw larger flocks of geese flying about a mile from a large lake into two wheat stubble fields.   In the second field, we watched a couple of hundred speckle-bellies, a couple dozen snow geese, and some scattered flocks of honkers working an area of the field next to the road.  Again, permission to hunt was no problem.  The landowner was a hunter, but wasn't interested in hunting this early in the season.  As we went back to baby-sit the flock, a group of guys parked right next to them in the road and the geese spooked to the back end of the field.  Turned out the other guys were just neighbors and also not interested in hunting this early.  They claimed there would be much bigger flocks later in the season.  Ben and I strategized about whether or not to set up near the road or in the back end of the field.  We decided to hunt near the road because it was closer to the lake they were sitting on.  We didn't want to set out further in the field and have the first flocks drop in before they got to us.  Also, we figured we could traffic-in geese if they tried to fly over us into the back end of the field.

 Later that afternoon, we went to the county seat and bought several maps that showed who owned what land.  These maps were awesome and I would recommend that anyone zeroing in on an area buy the maps.  At that time, there no good detailed sets of maps (like the DeLorme map books we have for each state) for all of Alberta.  One individual we spoke to suggested getting the landowner maps, a phone book for the area, and calling ranchers on a cell phone as soon as we saw geese in a field.  The early season was not very competitive so we had time to drive around until we found the landowners.   

 

The following morning we set in the field near the road as planned.  We dragged down only a couple birds into the decoys and made the most of it.  After watching the flock build up a quarter mile away on the other end of the field, we decided to make a quick move.  We piled as many decoys as possible into the Final Approaches and dragged them as far toward the geese as my stamina would allow.  This brought us a few more birds, but nothing spectacular.  The main flights had already come out and we spooked them we moved.  Ben was somewhat upset about us guessing wrong on where to set up.  He decided to go scouting and left me to guard the setup.  While he was gone, I got a chance to do some calling.  Somehow, my Gander Lander flute call was good enough to bring in two big honkers.  I got both and was really proud.  We had both learned that the honkers were relatively easy to call, even for a rookie like me.  The Speckle-bellies did not respond well to the honker call.

For the afternoon hunt, we worked a field right next to the big lake that we had watched the previous evening.  As before, permission to hunt was no problem.  There were mostly Speckle-bellies in the field with several snows.  They were also working a nearby field so we figured that could also depend on traffic to bring birds close.  About 4 PM, the birds were up in bigger numbers than we thought.  The next hour was awesome.  We always had birds working us.  Finishing our daily limit was no problem, especially when Ben began trying the Speckle-belly call that Bill Saunders had loaned us. (We recommend bringing both Canadian and Speckle-belly calls.  Call Bill Saunders in Kennewick to buy one of his Speckle-belly calls.)  After we limited, we kept bringing in birds just to watch them work the field. As we were about ready to pick up, a flight of Specs with several Snows began working us.  Snows have a separate limit of 8 birds so we tried to bring them in.  All we got was a passing shot, but it was good enough for one of to knock down a Snow.  Since we didn't know who shot it, we both claimed it and felt satisfied that we got at least one Snow.  At this point, we were also done with our possession limit.  We could have given away some of the birds to get another day of hunting, but Ben needed to get back home to pack for school.

Returing Home

 

All birds needed to be transported with a head and at least one wing.  Our extra large cooler was full as well as another large cooler.  More cooler space would have helped.  The geese that we couldn't fit into a cooler, we put into garbage sacks with ice bags in the sacks.  Cleaning the geese in the field worked OK, but remember to bring plenty of water to clean the birds and your hands.  

 

Where they wanted it, we dropped off some American beer at each of the ranches we hunted.  We heard that the Canadians liked American beer, but that didn't turn out to be as true as we thought.  One of the ranchers preferred whiskey, which we didn't have and another didn't drink at all, but did take some cookies that my wife made for us.  I'm sure that just stopping by with a thank you after the hunt helped, but I also believe that leaving something helped keep good relationships.  All of the ranchers were exceptionally friendly and wanted to talk a while.  We were amazed at the reception they gave us Americans.  

 

After spending the night in Calgary, we started home.  I twisted Ben's arm to do some fishing on the Crowsnest River, which was on the way home.  Even though I fished mid-day, I caught several fish in the 14" to 18" range, primarily on a Dave's Hopper.  I wished that we had more time to fish the river.  Access was easy and the wading was easy.  

 

The border crossing was again painless.  Even though we had 32 geese plus the one snow goose to claim, the Canadians did not even check the vehicle.  We simply filled out a transport form and were on our way.

TRIP COSTS (for two people)

 

Lodging - about $50 a day except around Calgary where it was closer to $100 a night.

Food - We ate out most of the time - about $30 a day for two people

Shells - $60

Gifts for ranchers - $40

Fishing Guide $350

Gas (for a truck) - a bit over $400

Licenses - $272 (Season license for two people for fishing, small game hunting, and migratory birds)

Miscellaneous - $200

 

The total cost was about $2100.  We could have gone for less if we did some sleeping in the truck and cooked

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