The Fishing Report: Fishing trip turned rescue mission

A fishing trip to remember just out side of Resurrection Bay
Published: Sep. 1, 2022 at 9:07 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - This week’s Fishing Report started as a fantastic fishing trip but turned into a rescue mission after a mayday call from a disabled boat.

Alaska’s News Source took off from the Seward Boat Harbor with Bryan Blutcher, captain of Black Magic Charters, at the helm. The water was rough in Resurrection Bay, but we decided to push through it and see if the water would calm down outside of the bay.

The seas did just that as we anchored down at the fishing spot and started pulling up silver salmon using a method called mooching. Anchoring down instead of trolling and chumming the waters to bring the salmon to the boat instead of the other way around.

It worked like a charm for all four of us in the boat, catching our limit of three silver salmon very quickly before we started bottom fishing, something Blutcher says is their specialty.

“I love teaching. I love taking out kids and families, like that is my niche. Rockfish, bottom fish, that’s what we specialize in,” Blutcher said. “We have fun with the salmon, but if you want to catch a lingcod, rockfish, and halibut, that’s what we focus on, and we can put you on that.”

The weather was cold, but the fishing was hot. We bottom bounced for a while and pulled in a few halibut before Blutcher lined up a lingcod for the day’s catch.

Blutcher not only stands out because of his great personality and exceptional fishing ability, but also because he’s one of the few Black fishing guides out of the Seward Harbor.

“I look at it in terms of — I don’t focus on that I’m a Black captain or that I’m a Black guy fishing. I enjoy doing this,” Blutcher continued, “I do take pride in the sense that I am a Black captain and I can open up the door for a lot of other people, a lot of other black and brown people who haven’t been exposed to this and it is just an easy key way for them to feel comfortable with me and go out fishing.”

Blutcher has been fishing all his life and started his charter business, Black Magic Charters, two years ago after getting his own boat.

While wrapping up our fishing trip and getting ready to head back to the harbor, we heard a distress call from a disabled vessel whose alternator went out. The vessel, named “Social Distancing”, said they were anchored down but drifting quickly towards some rocks. Sea Tow, a rescue service out of Seward, responded to the call, and on the way back from the fishing spot, Blutcher swung by to see if he could be of assistance.

The rescue boat came in the nick of time. When they arrived, the disabled vessel was only about 300 feet from the rocks. Rescuers managed to get a tow line over to “Social Distancing” and, after some difficulty getting tied up, started to tow the two people aboard and their dog through the high swells and rough water.

The situation looked to be under control, so Blutcher put us on course to head back, but before getting too far away, we heard the mayday call on the radio, and Blutcher was one of the boats that sprung into action.

“It was lights and sirens. It was go red go, it was like we need to assist this vessel, they are in distress and lives are at stake,” he explained. “So I heard the mayday call on the radio, I immediately turned the boat around and punched it as hard as I could to get there.”

When we arrived at the scene, “Social Distancing” was nearly totally submerged and a woman was holding on to the side of the boat, attempting to save her dog. She eventually made it safely onto the rescue boat with the other person.

The captain of the Sea Tow rescue vessel made one more effort to save the dog with a dive into the water, but unfortunately, the dog was lost.

It’s a stark reminder that the weather out in the ocean can change instantly and to always be prepared for the worst possible scenarios.

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