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.

November 11-16, 2007 — At the rate the gillnet fleet were catching, it looked like this would be the last week of the season. The week of November 11-16 offered no fishing in the Seattle area, but still had fishing in Hood Canal, which I had sworn off, and Everett, which was still in my realm if there were fish to catch.

I would have gone for the Tuesday, November 13, opening in Everett, but I had commitments at home and couldn't make it. I heard fish reports that there were a few fish around, so it should be worth going for the opening on Thursday, November 15, which just happened to be my birthday.

I would rather do nothing else besides fish on my birthday. I always hope that God, or at least the fish-gods, will give me a present. My gift this year was a nice, clear day in Everett with a steady breeze that brought easy fishing for just over 100 fish. And they were nice bright fish worthy of sale to my public on San Juan Island.

I was considerate of the Satisfaction's rate of fuel consumption and stayed close to the Possession Head line in the southern part of the district. The fish at Possession are just coming into the district, so they are brighter and better for my fish customers.

I found out toward the end of the day that the guys who had run up toward Port Susan, which is the bay between Camano Island and the mainland north of Tulalip, had really good fishing, with catches of over 700 dark, gnarly chums. I later found out that those with the really good days had gone up past the line where they weren't supposed to fish, but even the guys who kept it legal had around 300 fish. At $0.85 per pound, that is a pretty good paycheck.

I could have run up there and fished the next day, but I had plans to go to the Fish Expo in Seattle, and I didn't feel like launching myself on another goose-chase, chasing tails in a fished-out area where I would have to set illegally to make a payday. Plus I had decided to supply the residents of San Juan Island with one last shot of fish, which would be only their second batch of chum — er, keta — salmon this season. So with the higher ideal of direct fish sales supporting my decision, by 7 p.m. on the evening Thursday, November 15, I was headed for Seattle with my day's catch still in the hatch, dressed and ready for my public.

I off-loaded the fish into my truck without using The Crane from Hell by shuttling the fish up 20 at a time in ice chests; I figured that would be easier than messing with that piece of shit crane. I iced them for the night with the ice I had remaining from my trip.

The next morning, Friday, November 16, I headed first thing for Sea Freeze, and packed the fish in a premium pack of ice that could last a week; but it only needed to make it until Saturday morning when they would be sold on San Juan Island. Finally, I headed for Fish Expo to start thinking about my projects that await in Bristol Bay.

TO BE CONTINUED...

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