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.

March 21 to April 3, 2007 — The Discovery arrived in Sitka in the wee hours of the morning on Wednesday, March 21. We tied directly to the Seafood Producers Cooperative dock and awaited delivery of our first trip of the year. They started off-loading us around 10 a.m., and we had everything wrapped up in just a few hours. All totaled, we had nearly 20,000 pounds of fish aboard, which was pretty good considering we fished only one day.

Baiting halibut gear was our primary task on Thursday, March 22. On Friday we baited what remained of the blackcod gear, and left for fishing at 5 p.m.

On the run out, George once again brought talk of a big storm, but Chicken Little held no clout this time, and we made it out to the grounds and set our gear without rearranging our schedule. As it turned out, the weather was nice as anyone could ask for.

We fished one day of halibut and two days of blackcod, and caught our entire quota for both species. We had the gear aboard and the boat scrubbed down by 9 p.m. on Monday, March 27, which brought the Discovery to the dock at 1 a.m. on Tuesday.

Unfortunately for the cavity-infested children, but fortunately for a few rockfish, our catch of rockfish was very low, so Fish for Teeth had no fish donated to it after this opening. Besides, the herring purse seine fleet was in, and the plant was backed up with herring, so there was no time to dress fish for the children, anyway.

We did nothing on Tuesday; I guess it was a day off. We baited on Wednesday, then took ice at 6 a.m. on Thursday, and left promptly at 7:30 a.m. on Thursday, March 29. We were heading across the Gulf of Alaska, to catch halibut and black cod in the central gulf area. It is a two-day run across, and then we had four days of fishing ahead of us.

The weather was really nice with a gentle southeast wind encouraging us along in our crossing of the Gulf of Alaska. We arrived on the fishing grounds in the Seward Gully in the wee hours of Saturday morning, March 31. We laid out one halibut string in the dark, and followed it up with three more after daybreak. Then we ran to nearby deeper waters and slapped out a couple blackcod strings for a long soak.

We hauled halibut gear all day that first day, and one more string in the morning of Sunday, April 1. We had 18,000 pounds of halibut from those four strings, which was not red-hot fishing, but we weren't complaining. After the halibut we went immediately to hauling blackcod gear, which we continued to do for the following two and a half days.

We averaged 4,000 pounds of blackcod per string, which everyone aboard was quite happy with. Since we were bringing the fish aboard round (uncleaned), we could hold the fish aboard the boat for only three days. But that was fine with us, because dressing fish is a lot of work; we used to stay out for seven or eight days, scratching away and cleaning every fish.

We had the last string aboard on Tuesday evening, and 10 hours later we were tied to the Resurrection Bay Seafoods dock, waiting to deliver.


Inside the Industry

NMFS has awarded 16 grants totaling more than $2.5 million as part of its Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program.

The program supports the development of technological solutions and changes in fishing practices designed to minimize bycatch and aims to to find creative approaches and strategies for reducing bycatch, seabird interactions, and post-release mortality in federally managed fisheries.


Abe Williams, who was elected to the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association board last spring, has been selected as the new president as of September.

Williams fishes the F/V Crimson Fury, and is president of Nuna Resources, a nonprofit that supports sustainable resource development in rural Alaska, including fighting for an international solution to issues raised by the proposed Pebble Mine project.

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