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.

March 25, 2011 — We just completed our first longline trip of the 2011 season. The season opened March 12, but the Discovery didn't leave Port Townsend, Wash., until March 15.

We arrived Sitka, Alaska, on Sunday, March 20, took ice and bait, baited Sunday and Monday, then left for fishing that evening. The Sitka herring run was late this year; the seiners were just starting to show up; because of the Japan disaster the herring price was only $75 per ton.

We fished halibut the first day, then two days of blackcod. Halibut fishing was fair, but we caught our meager quota in one day. Blackcod was good, but the whales were eating our fish, so it slowed us down a bit. The price was phenomenal — $6 to $7 for halibut, and $6.50 to $8 for blackcod.

The seagulls were crazy this trip — I've never seen them so hungry. They were flying all around, swooping at any tiny bait scrap as it flew off the groundline, landing on the dressing table as we were cutting bait, and picking bait off the hook as we were hauling the gear aboard. And they were dropping bombs everywhere, of course — they speckled the entire house and painted the top of the wheelhouse.

Surprisingly, the hungry seagull behavior didn't preempt a storm; it was beautiful all three days, and for the week prior as well.

We're heading back out to clean up our Southeast quota on Saturday, March 26.

TO BE CONTINUED...

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