National Fisherman

At Sea Diary

Matt MarinkovichMatt Marinkovich’s weekly At Sea Diary entry is a popular feature of the National Fisherman Web site, and now you can post your own reflections on Matt’s experiences fishing in the Pacific Northwest and North Pacific.

Wednesday June 1, 2011 — I arrived in Naknek. One thing that was different was there were many other fishermen here to greet me; usually I am one of the very first, then other fishermen trickle in after me. And since I arrived on pretty much the same date as usual, this means the other fishermen are coming up earlier. In fact, three guys I know of came up, got their major projects done, and then flew home. I haven't seen this much interest in Bristol Bay since the the mid-1990s.

Another astounding snippet of real-time trivia is the price of permit leases. After years of $8,000 to $10,000 lease price to use a Bristol Bay permit for the season, permits are now leasing at the incredible price of $25,000. Of course, if a fisherman owns his own permit, he doesn't have to pay this. But if you need a permit in order to go fishing, you are going to have to fork out the big bucks.

Both of these facts demonstrate the anticipation and excitement of this upcoming Bristol Bay season. Last year we were paid more than we have been paid since the mid-1990s. Guys are building new boats, coming up early to work on refrigeration systems, bow thrusters, or hydraulic-upgrade installations, which shows this year the fleet will be on point and ready to fight for every fish.

On the more real side of life, over the winter a pair of robins built their nest in my mast, which was lowered when my boat was moved into the warehouse for the winter. I knew I would have to give these birds some kind of an eviction notice because my boat would be out fishing before their chicks hatched and fledged.

To accommodate the birds, my crewman Edward and I moved it to the rafter just a few feet away. When the birds returned after we relocated their nest, they were a bit confused. Edward and I watched as they tried to figure out what had happened to their nest, and after a full FIVE MINUTES of confusion, one of them noticed the nest in the new location, and they have been living there happily ever since. It is really cool because whenever I am working on a project up on my flying bridge, they are buzzing back and forth feeding their chicks.

At this point I hope to have my boat moved out of the warehouse in a day or two, so it is good to have the birds off the boat. It is also good to have those birds as a reminder that despite all the hype and excitement connected to this year's Bristol Bay season, everything is still connected to the natural cycle of life.

Let's hope the sockeye are cycling as well as those robins!

TO BE CONTINUED...

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