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.

April 17-21, 2008 — As we charged out for our final blackcod trip on Thursday, April 17, the weather outside of Seward was great — hardly a breeze and hardly a swell, which was surprising after such a powerful blow the day before; but it was an offshore breeze so there was no residual swell, I suppose.

We arrived at our blackcod spot in the middle of the night (early morning) on Friday. We set out two blackcod strings, then waited until daybreak and set one long (19 skates) string of blackcod gear set on the halibut ground. We waited four hours so the "halibut" gear had a enough soak time, and around 11 a.m. we finally started hauling back the halibut string.

It was sort of a surreal experience with all the time spent waiting. I slept at each opportunity; three times total. I had never been so well rested. I usually can't sleep, but on this occasion I was a bit fed up with just being here, so I found it easy to nap — to take my mind off the fact that I was even on the boat; this is Brett's trick — he sleeps the time away, and therefore his fishing trips seem shorter to him.

When we finally started hauling, fishing was good. Lots of halibut kept flopping over the roller — 7,000 pounds, to be exact. And the blackcod fishing was good as well — three strings of around 4,500 pounds, and one of just 3,000 pounds — a far cry from the 500- to 1,500-pound strings we had the previous week, and that was a good thing!

We wrapped up the blackcod fishing in just four strings (we only needed 18,000 pounds), and a day-and-a-half's time. We were headed for Seward on the evening of Saturday, April 19, looking for a quick turn-around so we could get back out and enjoy the nice weather to finish off our halibut for the season and run that last load home to Bellingham.

With our short trip we had the advantage of being the only boat in while the rest of the fleet was still fishing, so we didn't have to wait for any services like delivery time or ice.

We delivered first thing in the morning on Sunda, and were all cleaned up and back at the boat harbor by 1 p.m. Sunday afternoon. We started baiting right away, and baited 24 blackcod skates on Sunday afternoon. On Monday morning, April 21, George and Mike started the day off early, standing on deck cutting bait at 7 a.m. We all joined in shortly after and had all 56 halibut skates finished by 11 a.m.

We were just finishing up the last skates when we headed over to RBS and filled our hatch with ice for our final trip of the season. With our ice aboard, all the gear baited, a full freshwater tank and groceries aboard, we were ready to head back out after one of the fastest turn-arounds on record. We were ready to catch the last of our halibut, and after the long south our next stop would be Bellingham. And then home.

TO BE CONTINUED...

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