Monday, March 4, 2024

THE WASHINGTON OUTDOOR REPORT July 23

Josie and the tomcats go to Alaska

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The first time I met Josie Regula was when she boarded our charter boat, the Mystic Lady, at Sportsman’s Cove Lodge on Prince of Wales Island in Southeast Alaska. The 50-something year-old-woman was accompanied by her husband, Max. The two had come here from San Diego, California to fish for salmon, halibut, cod and more during a three-day stay at this luxury Alaska fishing lodge.

It turns out Josie isn’t shy. As she boarded the boat for an orientation prior to the next morning of fishing, Josie let us know this was her very first fishing trip. She then told all of us with much bravado she intended to catch the biggest fish on the boat and probably the most as well.

Her husband Max looked shyly downward but the rest of us did not. Her shipmates were myself, my best friend Rusty Johnston, well known Pacific Northwest outdoors writer Terry Sheeley, Frank Skipworth (a veterinarian from Kentucky), and the Captain of the Mystic Lady, Steve Helton. I think Josie was expecting a chorus of loud guffaws and snorts from us but several of us nodded in agreement and said there was a good chance she would do just that.

Josie looked momentarily confused until I explained first time anglers, especially women, tended to out fish their male shipmates because they had not formed a lifetime of bad habits like the rest of us had. Add to that, first time women anglers tend to not only pay attention to the fishing advice dispensed by the captain, but actually follow it. Several of us went on to say we had indeed seen women with no experience catch the biggest fish or the most fish because of this.

I’m not sure Josie believed what she was telling us but we all knew her prediction could well come true.

When I asked Josie her name, she said it was “Josie, like Josie and the Pussycats.”  Being all over 50 years of age on the boat, we all recognized the reference to the old television cartoon show featuring Josie, the star of a female rock band, and her supporting cast the Pussycats.  With all of us being men Terry Sheeley said we wouldn’t be the Pussycats as her band members, but we would be willing to be the Tomcats. And with that, the fishing band was formed.

On our first morning we fished a large sandy bottom flat that was about 260 feet deep, a non-descript part of the ocean some 35-minutes away from the lodge by boat. Dropping down our bait of herring with 12-ounce lead weights on a short leader we began to jig for halibut and wouldn’t you know it, Josie caught the first fish of the day, a healthy five-pound true cod. Josie’s luck, and learning curve, increased over the next three days of fishing and she reeled in more than her share of cod, halibut and salmon but it was our third day of fishing that Josie played her greatest hit.

The weather the first two days was mild but our final day on the water was a rough one. We endured a steady drizzle most of the day and rough seas that had Josie feeling under the weather.

In fact, despite the fact she took Dramamine to combat motion sickness, she became sea sick. I’ll give here credit though; she stuck it out on deck as we jigged for halibut during a slow morning of fishing that only yielded a few smaller halibut and true cod.

Then, Josie’s rod tip bent down in a big way. She set the hook and the fight was on. The fish Josie hooked was definitely no small halibut; oh no, it was a very big one. Josie, who was not above using colorful language, used it in abundance during the fight that followed with this Goliath of a fish. Having never battled a big fish before, she decided to kneel down on the deck on one knee and brace her fishing rod against the deck rail as she reeled. It was an unorthodox way to fight a fish but it worked. The fish made several runs towards the bottom, robbing Josie of line as it did, and each time the fish made a run Josie would loudly express her dismay. However, Josie stuck it out, kept reeling and eventually, after a long fight, got that halibut to the surface.

The fish was brought on board and it measured well over the 40 inches where non-resident charter anglers are allowed to keep a halibut in this part of Alaska. In fact, that fish measured a whopping four-feet and weighed an estimated 53 pounds. After snapping a few photos, that halibut was released back into the sea unharmed to grow even bigger and Josie’s day one prediction of catching the biggest fish on the boat came true.

After taking a short break to deal with fatigue from both the fight and sea sickness she was right back on the rail for the final afternoon of fishing, reeling in half a dozen salmon in the process. In the end it just goes to show first time female anglers really can out fish all the experienced men on board, and Josie’s Tomcats were more than happy to be her supportive band as she performed her greatest hit.

If you would like to find out more about the first-class fishing adventures available at

Sportsman’s Cove Lodge for anglers of any experience level, go to their website at

www.alaskasbestlodge.com.

John Kruse – www.northwesternoutdoors.com and www.americaoutdoorsradio.com

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