We made our way from Sitka to Ell Cove over three days. The trip could be done in a day, but we took our time waiting out the rapids at Sergius Narrows and ducking for shelter from the 40 knot winds in Chatham Strait. After all, we are getting used to the quiet nights at anchor.
We stopped in Ell Cove to visit the Hidden Falls Hatchery. Once again, we are in awe of the anchorage. There was only one other boat when we arrived and the anchorage looked about the size of a bathtub. There is a very narrow opening to the anchorage so you fell like you are in your own little world.
Hidden Falls Hatchery is a short dinghy ride away from the anchorage. We were greeted on the docks by the manager. He took us around the property and explained the salmon lifecycle and their work at the hatchery to ensure sustainable fishing in Alaska. We had previously visited the DIPAC hatchery in Juneau so we already had a basic understanding of the process but the experience at Hidden Falls felt much more personal.
Once we got back to the anchorage, another boat that we frequently run into, “Salty Dawg”, rode up on their dinghy to say hello. They asked if we had seen the cubs fishing for salmon over the hatchery and showed off the photos they had captured. The recommended we wait until morning to head over because the bears are often more bold after hours when the hatchery team is not around. We decided we would head over first thing in the morning.
It was going to be a quiet night. We fired up a movie, the three of us curled up on the couch under a fuzzy blanket. Suddenly Dougal hopped up from his seat when he saw the fishing rod tip bending a bit. When he got outside, he appeared so nonchalant that we thought nothing of it. We thought it might be kelp. But soon he hollered to us that he had a fish on! He caught a 40 lb halibut. The next 2 hours involved lots of fetching of zip lock bags, fish guts, filleting, and cleaning.
The next morning was equally exciting. We headed back to the hatchery on the dinghy to see the bears…and we were not disappointed! The bears were fishing as the eagles stood by for a chance at some leftover scraps.
It already seems like a full day….be we are not done yet! Heading down the coast about 10 miles now to Baranof Warm Springs. Ahhh….hot tubs. Until Next time…