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 25-31, 2008 — We flew into Sitka around 6 p.m. on Tuesday, March 25. Since we arrived right at dinnertime, we decided to try out the Channel Club restaurant — the newly rebuilt, highbrow steak joint — for dinner. We took up bait so it would be thawed the next morning, and we were on our way.

Crosby was in town hoping to land a job on a herring seiner, and was also kind of helping the PSG Film guys in any way he could, which wasn't much I gathered, because he is more of a fish guy than a film guy. After dinner I met up with Crosby and we headed up town to talk about the upcoming Bristol Bay season. It was a Tuesday night, so the P-Bar was quite hospitable to having a private conversation (and the cigarette smoke content wasn't bad, either!). I made it back to the boat by 3 a.m., with just enough time to soak up a power-snooze before we got up to bait.

We went right into baiting the next morning. It was going so quickly we decided to take out enough bait to do the rest of the gear, all in one day. Crosby arrived around noontime, volunteering his services to help us bait, saying he needed practice in baiting because he was hoping to land a job on a longliner (he was losing faith he would get a job on a herring seiner).

We left for fishing that night, Wednesday, March 26. We hauled 4 1/2 strings of halibut to land 5,200 pounds of flat ones on Thursday and Friday, catching my quota on the mark. Next we hauled four strings of blackcod for 22,000 pounds, and headed in on Saturday afternoon, March 29.

Crosby headed back down to the Lower 48 while we were out fishing, so I skipped the bar on Saturday night because I was on the telephone wrapped up with Bristol Bay planning stuff. It would have been a good time to go because the herring came in big time in one single bay, and the stories were flying at the bar.

Apparently just a few Kodiak boats wound up catching about three-quarters of the quota in that opening. There was a fair bit of whining from some of the fleet who got none, but as far as I could tell those Kodiak guys simply did a great job at catching a huge amount of fish. I think Fish and Game underestimated the amount of fish in that bay, or else they wouldn't have opened that area because they really do not want to slug the processors with so much fish.

We delivered the next morning, on Sunday, March 30, then went right into baiting. We sort of took the morning off on Monday, March 31, which was good because I had to run my totes down to Northland and do a few errands, anyway. The Fish for Teeth pack was fully processed, stored in wetlock boxes, and scheduled for delivery to Bellingham. Mike reserved the morning for a Coast Guard volunteer safety inspection, which he was supposed to have completed and everything approved within 30 days of the Frederick Sound USCG boarding.

We took ice around 1 p.m. and headed out to cross the Gulf of Alaska with good weather. After we left I realized we had forgotten to load the one gray tote that we planned on bringing to Bellingham because I need a tote there to bring home the Fish for Teeth fish. Oh well, just another obstacle to overcome when I get home...

TO BE CONTINUED...

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