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 5-6, 2007 — Because the gillnet fleet had done so well in Seattle the previous week, and because a few purse seiners who have pull with the fish managers are just a bunch of whiners, the Seattle area was closed to gillnetters for the remainder of the season so the purse seiners could catch up. Still open to the gillnet fleet was Hood Canal and Everett, and I planned on fishing those areas the week of November 4-9.

I set my sites on the 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. opening in Everett on Tuesday, November 6, then planned on fishing the Hood Canal openings from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on both Wednesday and Thursday. If I was really into it, I could fish in Everett again on Friday, from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Accompanying me was Dave, one of the Claude M. Bristol crew members from Bristol Bay. He came out from Boston and wanted to go fishing with me as part of his radical humanities project for his graduate degree.

His project involved releasing hand-blown glass balls into the salmon-sustaining waters of Puget Sound. Each glass ball would suspend an energy-receiving crystal that would absorb the positive salmon-sustaining life force present in the water. To add emphasis on the "life" aspect, the whole time while working with the balls and crystals, Dave shall be wearing his handmade ceramic "Vulture of Life" mask, which anchors the symbolic nature of the whole exercise (exactly how, I cannot fully explain).

After about 20 minutes of energy absorption, Dave, er — the Vulture of Life — will pull the floats and crystals out of the sea, separate the crystals from the floats, and store them safely with his gear. Upon his return back to the Boston area, the Vulture will release the crystals into streams in which habitat restoration efforts are attempting to bring back runs of native salmon to the Boston area.

Aside from the salmon hoodoo, Dave was also going to sell a portion of the fish we caught, out of my truck — much like Anthony did in Tacoma, but hopefully with greater success. In order to make this work he had to meet me at Shilshole before I left with the boat, drive my truck up to Mukilteo, Wash., and jump on the boat from there. Then he could go fishing with me, be dropped off at my truck again, and do his selling the next day.

When it was all said and done he could leave the truck back at Shilshole where the whole adventure started. It's just another convoluted plan surrounding the direct sales of my local catch of salmon, but I believe it must be done in order to feed the people!

I left San Juan Island in the evening on Monday, November 5, and stopped off at the cold storage plant at around 8 p.m. to pick up some ice. Because I was arriving at the plant after hours, they prepackaged my ice in three wet-lock boxes that I loaded into my truck; a pretty cool way to get ice, especially if there is no other source available at that hour.

My next stop was to pick up Dave, who had no car, at a friend's boat in Lake Union that he was crashing on while in Seattle. By the time we made it to the Satisfaction at Shilshole Bay marina it was close to 11 p.m.

Anthony, who had fished with me the first week, had to come up and drop off the ice chests he used when he sold the keta salmon we caught a couple weeks prior. He wound up smoking most of the fish, and figured he would sell them to friends or strangers for the big bucks...

It was midnight by the time I made it off the dock after our bullshit session, reminiscing about the previous Bristol Bay season. At this point I headed out solo on the Satisfaction, and Dave drove my truck up to Mukilteo. The plan was to meet him at the public pier where he could jump on the boat for Tuesday's fishing, and I would return him to the pier at the end of the day, and still have my truck handy so he could sell fish from it on Wednesday.

The problem was that between now and the last time I used that dock, which was around 15 years earlier, the dock had disappeared. Dave was in Mukilteo a full hour ahead of me and I sent him on a major goose chase in search of the phantom dock.

Eventually, after figuring out the dock actually no longer existed (which was around 4 a.m.), I ran across to the Clinton Ferry dock and tied off to the guest float and waited for Dave to come across on the first ferry. He drove across, parked my truck up the hill, then walked down to the boat and we went fishing on the morning of Tuesday, November 6.

Sometimes I cannot believe the measures we go through for fish and hoodoo.


Inside the Industry

Legislators from Connecticut and Massachusetts complained about the current “out-of-date allocation formula” in black sea bass, summer flounder and scup fisheries in a letter to the U.S. Department of Commerce earlier this week.


The Southeast Alaska Fishermen’s Alliance recently announced that the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation has awarded the organization a Hollings Grant to reduce whale entanglements in Alaska salmon fisheries by increasing the use of acoustic whale pingers to minimize entanglements in fishing gear.


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