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.

April 17-20, 2006 — We arrived back in Seward on the morning of Monday, April 17. There were a few other boats that had called in ahead of us, so we had to wait until the following day to deliver the last of our Blackcod. All we had left to catch was 40,000 pounds of halibut, which we were running south to deliver in Bellingham, Wash., so we were almost done.

Our postponed delivery didn't slow us down. Early that morning we pulled from the freezer enough squid to bait half the halibut gear, but the cold weather kept the 30-pound blocks of squid too hard to break apart, so we didn't actually start baiting until 4 that evening. While we were baiting I sensed this strange urgency, like if we did anything aside from baiting this halibut gear, the world would come tumbling down around us.

I decided to get the groceries that night, because if I was absent the next day, it would be considered a capital offense, especially considering I could have gotten the groceries while we were waiting for the bait to thaw (but that was before I knew we were in panic mode to get out of town).

So after the baiting was done, and after I called my wife, I headed up to the Safeway for the latest boat-shopping session ever, walking into the store around 10 p.m. I was back on the boat and had all the groceries stowed by half-past midnight — what a great time to do the groceries!

I was up at 6 the next morning, Tuesday, April 18, to make a couple of phone calls, and then I migrated out to the bait house to bait gear while I talked to my wife on my phone with the hands-free headset. It wasn't too long after I sneaked out there that George came to join me, and then Mike and then Brett — and it wasn't even 7:30 a.m.! These guys were SERIOUS about baiting halibut gear, so I was all the more glad I had done my shopping the night before.

We stood in the bait house and baited all through the delivery at Resurrection Bay Seafoods. We stopped only if it was absolutely necessary, like when we took ice and bait. When they were done with us at the RBS dock we got the hell outta there; we were off by 3 p.m., baiting gear as we sailed away. Goodbye, Seward! See ya next year!

Halibut fishing went really smooth. We were out on the grounds by 2 a.m. Wednesday, April 19. There was a bit of a swell, but the wind had died down, and it was really easy going. We set out one string of 12 skates in the darkness, then hit the rack until 6 that morning, when we set out two more.

We went right into hauling halibut gear after a quick breakfast. We had more than 5,000 pounds on our first string, and everybody was happy. Then we had close to 6,000 pounds on the next string. We set out a couple more skates. The fish were coming aboard, and the way it looked we would have our quota in just two days of fishing. Then it would be off to Bellingham!

TO BE CONTINUED...

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