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.

Saturday, November 17, 2007 — I was all tucked in on the Satisfaction after the Fish Expo socializing session by close to 2 a.m. on Saturday. This may seem like a reasonable hour (or not), but the fact was I had to be up at 4 a.m. to start my drive north from Shilshole Bay Marina to the Anacortes ferry landing to catch the 6:10 a.m. ferry to San Juan Island. Fortunately, I wasn't drinking because I had to drive, so I didn't have a hangover to prevent me from making my ferry.

I absolutely had to be on the ferry because Maureen had broadcast an e-mail notice to our Fish List that I was going to sell fish starting at 10 a.m. at Maureen's new shop. She opened a store called Compost-It! in which she sells products for a healthier planet. She sells everything from soaps to chicken feed, and incense to eco-friendly paint. Instead of selling at my usual spot in front of the print shop, I promised Maureen I would sell at her shop, to encourage our customers to stop into the off-the-beaten-path location and check out Maureen's shop while they were buying a fish.

I slept like a rock until my alarm went off, then I zombied myself up, got dressed, shut off every breaker on the Satisfaction except the bilge pump, grabbed my stuff, and headed out the door. I locked the door behind me, and left my boat to wait for me until the next time I returned — kind of like a dog, but with much less affection and a much higher fuel bill.

Traffic was zero, so I shot right up to the ferry landing. If I make this trip on a weekday morning, which is my usual schedule, there is a whole bunch of traffic out there at 4:30 a.m. That is one of the reasons I moved to an island; what the hell are all those people doing at 4:30 a.m.? Where are they going? What is so damned important?

The most important thing to me was taking a nap. I tried not to think about it when I was driving, lest I take a nap at 60 mph, but as I waited 20 minutes before they loaded us onto the ferry, I took a 19.5-minute nap. When I got on the ferry I walked right upstairs to the passenger deck with my eye-shades and my wool blanket, and found an open bench among some other ferry-sleepers.

I fell asleep almost immediately, and rode that snooze all the way until the ferry was powered down and tied to the dock. That's what woke me up. I completely ignore the "Please go down to the car deck and prepare to unload" announcement because there is still a full 15 minutes before the cars actually are driving off the boat, but when that ferry drops those main engines down, I wake up and head right down to my truck.

So I made it to my truck with less than a minute to spare, fired it up, and headed out into a new day on San Juan Island. It was just after 7:30 a.m. on Saturday morning. I zipped right home and joined my wife, who was still sleeping in our bed. It was almost like I was there all night long and woke up with her, except I smelled of fish and diesel, but Maureen has come to recognize that smell as sort of a good thing. It means I'm home from fishing...

Fish selling went pretty good, although I didn't sell the full 100 fish I had brought home because there were no walk-by customers buying my fish from the isolated location of the business park where Maureen has opened her shop. But I did bring a bunch of people into her shop, which was the whole idea of this fish-selling venture.

I had about 30 fish left over, so I threw 20 in the freezer for a winter stash, and I donated the last 10 fish to the food bank. I stood there and bagged them up for people, handing them out directly to the recipients. They really appreciate it.

It was an excellent way to end the 2007 fall chum season. I could have fished the next week for stragglers in Everett, and if I was hungry like I was in my younger days I would have been there for sure. But now my family takes priority over catching the last chum in Puget Sound. I must admit it makes me twitch a bit to sit out on being paid $0.85 per pound for black Everett dogs, knowing that if I had gone I would have caught a hundred or two. But there is a time and a place for everything, and my kids are only young once, so I think I'll join my wife in enjoying them while we can.

TO BE CONTINUED...

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