Laughing Gull’s 2017 Alaska Blog: For Starters

Posted on Jun 13, 2017

Laughing Gull’s 2017 Alaska Blog: For Starters

by Capt. John Page Williams

Capt. Steve Spencer has definitely flunked retirement, thanks to Laughing Gull, his customized 2014 24’ Seaway Hardtop Sport.  Only twelve months after he and his wife, Libbey Seigars, completed a 6,904-mile cruise around the Great Loop of the eastern United States (Laughing Gull Boat Charters Loop Blog), this hardy couple from Whitefield, Maine packed their beloved boat onto her trailer, hitched her to their pickup truck, towed her cross-continent to Prince Rupert, BC, and put their whole rig on a ferry there for the 100-mile passage to Ketchikan.  Capt. Spence pleads Gainful Employment for the Summer, guiding anglers for Baranof Fishing Excursions.  

For ten days, they cruised Laughing Gull through Tongass Narrows and Nichols Passage into Carroll Inlet, amid Alaska’s Misty Fjords National Park.  When we caught up with them by cell phone (yes, they have service there), it was raining “solid water”—often typical of Southeast Alaska weather–but they were scouting old areas where Spence guided for Baranof in 2008-09 and exploring new ones.  “We’re eating well,” he reported, “mostly windowpane flounder now.”  

By the time you read this blog entry, Libbey will have returned to her Whitefield Pottery for the summer, and Spence will have started guiding hopeful anglers on day trips for halibut, salmon, and bottom fish (especially yelloweye rockfish) aboard one of Baranof’s 20’ open skiffs.  Most of his customers will be visitors from the cruise ships that dock in Ketchikan.  All species are prized for their sporting qualities and flavor, but the yelloweyes are special here because they are naturals for the Ketchikan version of bouillabaisse.  

All during the peak season (June 15-August 15), Spence will have his folks fish jigs and bait in 150-250’ of water in the fjords around Tongass Narrows and Nichols Passage for halibut and bottom fish.  They will also troll, mooch (a local technique practiced with specially-cut herring baits), and jig for king salmon (June), pink salmon (late June-July), and silver salmon (cohos, late July-August).  

He’ll live aboard Laughing Gull for the season.  That arrangement may sound like hardship duty, but over all the miles Spence and Libbey have put under her keel, they have turned roughing it into easy living.  In late August, Libbey will return for another week’s cruise.  Then they will pack their rig again, get back onto the ferry to Prince Rupert, and return to Maine for fall charters and more cruises Downeast.  We’ll follow their adventures all summer.  

Yes, Capt. Steve Spencer flunked retirement, but doesn’t he set a standard for the rest of us?