Skip to content

Pybus Bay to Tracy Arm Cove

Hey whatdy’a know? Our crab traps had crab in ‘em this morning. Cannery Cove does not disappoint. Three keeper males, and two females. One of the males was HUGE. He was so big that I thought the smallest male might not be big enough, but when we measured him, he was off the scale and definitely big enough. My calibration was totally thrown off by this guy:


Kevin cleaned the crabs while I made breakfast and then we headed out into Stephens Passage. Stephens Passage is notoriously thick with humpbacks so we figured today would be about humpbacks.

We saw two humpbacks while still in Pybus Bay, and then as we came around the corner out into Stephens Passage, we noticed a brown bear sow and two cubs on the shore, so we went in to get a closer look.

blackbears-2129 blackbears-2126 blackbears-2120 blackbears-2118 blackbears-2111

As we were passing Gambier Bay and approaching Point Hugh, the area was just THICK with whales.

humpbacks-2158 humpbacks-2138


Spouts everywhere, tails everywhere, and then we noticed some serious splashing a ways away, toward the point. We binoc’d it and it was a whole lot of tail slapping. Like, maybe 20 times in a row…and then all over again! Crazy!

humpbacks-2151 humpbacks-2153 humpbacks-2155

Pretty soon we were distracted by about 10 Dall’s porpoises who came zipping over to surf our bow wake. They are SO. MUCH. FUN! They were with us for about 15 minutes, doing somersaults and corkscrew rolls…it was a blast to watch (all the while with tail slapping humpback in the background). Those porpoises peeled off, only to be replaced 10 minutes later by another group. And then repeat, several times over. It seemed like we had porpoises playing in our bow wake ALL DAY. Seriously. It was nuts.

dolphins-2170 dolphins-2177

Kevin took some video and made this very cool (and totally mesmerizing) compilation:

As we approached Tracy Arm/Endicott Arm, we decided to stop and fish for halibut for a little bit. We anchored near the opening to Endicott Arm and Kevin put two halibut lines in the water. I was uploading photos when he said (about 15 minutes after putting the lines out) “I think something’s biting on my line. Come feel.” So I went out and yeah, you could definitely feel the fish chomping on the bait and pulling on the line. We knew better than to do anything, so we just waited until the fish started to swim away with his snack all eaten, and then started reeling him in. Whoa…it was a big one. It felt like an “uh oh, how are we going to get this in the boat” big one. I was right. I took a few quick photos just as Kevin got him to the surface, and then grabbed the gaff. But when I whacked him with the gaff it just bounced off his head (oops) and then after about 30 more seconds, he got loose. We could tell that the hook was just barely in his lip, and he was able to shake it off. Well dangit. But it was super cool to see…and to get him all the way to the boat. We’re estimating it was about 48” long….and maybe 70 pounds. Hard to tell on the weight, but I’m certain of the length. It was big, and the first halibut we’ve almost caught. I think we need a longer gaff, and a harpoon. (You can’t even tell how big it is from this photo, but trust me, it was, well…too big for the boat.) 🙂


We are now anchored in Tracy Arm Cove with several other boats. Apparently Tracy Arm hasn’t been navigable to the glacier all season, not even by the small tour boats. From the looks of all the icebergs way out here at the entrance, I can see how that might be. From what we hear the glacier is having record calving, and the icebergs in Stephens Passage are moving north, when they normally move south. So…things are wacky with the glacier this year. View from our anchorage:

tracyarm-2243 tracyarm-2242tracyarm-2235 tracyarm-2221 tracyarm-2219

Melting ice:


Sumdum Glacier:

tracyendicott-2201 tracyendicott-2198

Our plan tomorrow is to maybe fish for more halibut, and then go into Ford’s Terror for a day or two, and then to the end of Endicott Arm to check out Dawes Glacier (which we haven’t seen before). For dinner tonight, we cooked up some fresh Dungeness crab and ate it as-is, with a side salad I made from shredded brussels sprouts, crushed almonds, olive oil, and a little bit of my homemade caesar dressing. It was so good!

Here’s today’s track from Cannery Cove at Pybus Bay to Tracy Arm Cove (44.9 nautical miles, 6 hours 10 minutes):


And here’s a photo of many icebergs in the distance, quite a bit north from the entrance to Tracy Arm:



  1. You realize the halibut is a fish story, right? 70 pounds? I mean, sure, you have a photo… ;-P

    Loved the video. Do you have a polarizing filter on the camera?

    • Oh yeah, I knew full well that it was gonna be a fish story. Why do you think I took photos before getting the gaff??? The video was all iPhone, so…no. 🙂

  2. sanityhunter sanityhunter

    Nice Hali! Definitely need a scotchman and a harpoon for something that size 😳

  3. Kevin McLaughlin Kevin McLaughlin

    Dolphins swimming off the bow always gladden me!

    • Laura Domela Laura Domela

      Me too! I don’t think I’ll ever tire of that!

  4. Nick Nick

    Those were brown bears and those dolphins were Dall’s porpoises. Nice post!

    • Yes, Nick, they were brown bears. I meant to go in and change that before leaving the land of internet. Thanks for the reminder. As for the dolphins, these were definitely Pacific White Sided dolphins. We’ve seen Dall’s Porpoises too…the photos part way down in this post might give you a better view of their markings: Cheers!

Comments are closed.