Matt 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.
Written by Jen Finn
October 28-29, 2007 — The first week of chums was a resounding success. Both nights had real good fish, and I began the extension of my fish-selling network, although not nearly as successfully as I had hoped in the metropolitan areas. The guys who went to Hood Canal later in the week had caught fish, and I was looking forward to another week of good fishing in Seattle.
This week, because it was so much work to dress and clean a bunch of fish in the first place, I decided that if it was a good night fishing I was going to stick to catching, and not bother with the toil of dressing a bunch of fish for my public. I decided that, although I hold my idealistic principles in very high regard, it is not worth killing myself to walk the walk of the virtues of providing a local food supply. I am walking enough of the walk to make a difference, so I figured I'd just slip the dollars into the coffers this week in the corporate, old-school fashion.
Accompanying me on this night of fishing was none other than (and this is one of my favorite guests to take out fishing with me)... NOBODY. There are few things more peaceful than a night on the water with no distractions, just me and my thoughts (and hopefully a bunch of salmon!).
I left the island on the later ferry on Sunday, instead of my standard first-thing-in-the-morning routine. I did a straight shot down to the boat and was there in plenty of time to get things ready, even with all the bullshit sessions that cannot be avoided with the other fishermen on the dock. It was really nice to skip all the hassle of getting ice from someplace, which seemingly is never a convenient thing to do. Plus it was so easy to load my night's supplies on the boat without having to worry about totes or ice chests. I brought everything down in one trip and started focusing on the night of fishing ahead.
I went to my standard spot north of the Bainbridge ferry lane and slapped the net out. And waddya know, I had another good opening set; 175 fish. I threw those puppies in the hatch and called it good; no dressing, scraping, or icing. After my net was in the water for my second set I kicked back in the cabin and had a snack. I could get used to this... it was EASY!!!
In my relaxed state, I reflected on the recent history of this fishery. With the processors paying $0.15 per pound, there was no way a guy could make a buck selling to the tenders, plus there were no tenders for the gillnetters because the whole fishery was geared toward the few seiners who were putting in huge volumes of fish at that garbage price. At 15 cents per pound the only way I could make a buck was to sell the fish myself. And I sold every one I caught, starting at $5 per fish.
Now, at $0.85 per pound, I can sit in my cabin eating a sandwich and make more than I did when I was selling my whole catch years ago. And if I want to go through the effort of dressing, I command $15 per fish, which adds up a helluva lot quicker than $5. It was a good, foreign feeling to sit through an opening when I wasn't dressing fish to sell to my public, but I knew I was relaxing this time because of all the work I had put in during the years before.
The fishing progressed as it had my previous two nights, maybe better. Perhaps I caught a few more fish because I was more attentive to my sets rather than just letting them soak in the water all fouled up as I dressed fish on the back deck. Whatever the reason, I wound up with just over 500 fish for the night, which makes for a great night's fishing at $0.85 per pound.
I could get used to this!
TO BE CONTINUED...
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