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.

December 1-3, 2007 — With the season done and over, the chore of repairing any damage to my chum net remained. I put the whole existence of the fishery out of my mind for a couple weeks after the season ended, but finally headed down to do the job on Saturday, December 1.

I needed to move the Satisfaction to Fishermen's Terminal to use the fully lighted net yard where I can work all night long, if needed (I've done it before). This was the perfect time to move the boat from Shilshole Bay Marina to Fishermen's Terminal — on the first day of the new billing cycle.

I dilly-dallied around with a few small boat projects, so by the time I pulled the Satisfaction into Fishermen's Terminal it was early afternoon. Fawn John helped me pull the net off, then we picked up my truck from Shilshole Marina. Afterward we put down a few grogs at his old sonar shop in Ballard, which has since been converted to a bar. We ended early because we started early, and I was sacked out on the Satisfaction by 11 p.m.

The next morning I was up at 6, but it was still raining; I rolled over and went back to sleep until 8, hoping the rain would stop, but it never did. Reluctantly, I donned my rain gear and went to work. I worked in the rain all morning. It rained hard at first, then harder toward noon. Then the wind picked up, and it rained even harder. People would drive by with their windows rolled all the way, their windshield wipers running full speed, and look at me like I was nuts. I felt like I was nuts! The rain came down in sheets, driven by a horrific wind. I stood steadfast, fully clad in my orange rain gear, my net needle working diligently at the task at hand.

I tried to justify my nonsensical actions by likening my net-repair time to a fishing opening. If it were raining this hard during a fishing opening, I wouldn't give it a second thought. So if this were my net-repair "opening," then it is an acceptable thing to be out in a driving rainstorm, right?

The rain filled up the parking lot and created a shallow lake around the storm drain. Under the 2 inches of flowing rain water my net turned invisible, since that is what a gillnet is supposed to do when immersed in water. The storm drain simply could not handle the volume of water trying to flow through it. A tiny whirlpool funnel formed in the drain as the water rushed through.

As I ate lunch I listened to the radio and heard the extent of the flooding; it was the most rain in history for a 24-hour period, with the town of Chehalis, Wash., completely trapped from the outside world, and I-5 closed because it was under a sea of water.

I still had miles to go before my job was finished. I worked all evening, then late into the night. The wind had died down, and from midnight to 2 a.m. on Monday, December 3, the rain had stopped altogether. But by this point I was too fatigued from standing in the rain all day. Even the bright lights of the Fishermen's Terminal net yard couldn't aid in holding the focus of my tired eyes. I was done for this night.

When the next day began it was still raining. It rained intermittently all day, and it was still raining on Fawn John and me that evening when we loaded the net into my truck.

I couldn't believe I had picked this weekend to work on my net. For nearly two full days I stood out there like some moron who doesn't know any better than to come in out of the rain, which I didn't, because I had to finish my net! But I came to get my net done, and done my net was, so I could care less if it rained more than ever in history — which is exactly what it did.

TO BE CONTINUED...

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