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 5-6, 2006 — When it is time to load the longline gear on the Discovery, it means time is running out to get things done before my fishing season begins. This year, I had too many things to do before I left: I had to help load the gear on the Discovery; I needed to deliver a load of Bristol Bay stuff to Northland Shipping in Seattle; I still had a long list of pre-season projects to do on the Satisfaction, which was in La Conner, Wash.; and I still had to get my fall net out of the yard at Fisherman's Terminal. Since time was running out I figured I would combine all these tasks into one trip off the island.

I left my home on San Juan Island on the 6:55 p.m. ferry on Sunday, March 5, 2006. I was worried about connecting with the Keystone ferry on Whidbey Island, which leaves at 9:15 p.m., so I beelined it down and made it in 45 minutes, with time to spare.

The Discovery was in its usual state of chaotic disorganization when I stepped aboard around 10 p.m. Last year Brett came up the night before as well, and we cleaned the boat spotless; this year there was no Brett and I wasn't so enthused. I started in taking grocery inventory, cleaning out the lockers as I recorded what food was where and how much of what was needed. I finished my task, which included eating a late-night snack and preparing my bunk, around 2:30 a.m.

Loading the gear went quickly as ever. We were rolling around 8 a.m. and had the job finished by 11 a.m. Brett's new-to-him Mazda RX-7 refused to start, so Mike grabbed a short piece of groundline, tied the Mazda to the back of his truck, and towed him onto the main road. Brett dumped the clutch and rocketed forward when the engine fired off. He slammed on the breaks in order to prevent eating Mike's bumper, and snapped the line with a squeal of the breaks and a loud POW! from the line.

On the way out of town I grabbed my refrigeration unit, which was coincidentally ready to ship that day, from Integrated Marine Systems in Port Townsend. That delayed me about an hour, so I was rushed to go to my next stop, the liquor store, to pick up a couple of cases of bribes and favors to ship north for the Bristol Bay season. I called my wife, Maureen, and she looked online and found a liquor store in Poulsbo, right on my way to the ferry.

I was in line at the Winslow ferry dock on Bainbridge Island by 3 p.m. When I got off the ferry, I realized I was in the middle of downtown Seattle, and I didn't know which way to turn to avoid getting stuck in a colossal traffic jam. I called the Peter Pan Seafoods office and asked them for directions to Northland, slipped right out of town, and made it to Northland by 4 p.m.

After my delivery, I shot up to Fisherman's Terminal to work on my fall net. It was piled up in a heap: my new piece of 150 mesh-deep net was in a pile, and piled on top of that was my rotten fall net that I needed to strip (I didn't have a tarp to protect my good net from sun damage, so I covered it with my old net). Then there was another pile that just needed to be stripped.

I pulled off the rotten net on top and remembered I was going to strip off the bottom 60 meshes of monofilament net from the bottom, so I could hand a corkline on it some day and have a 60-mesh chum net. I screwed around with that idea for a 100-fathoms worth of net, then realized I would be messing with it all night long, so I bagged that process altogether. Simultaneously I realized I didn't feel like stripping any net, and since I didn't want the lines (I got MILES of old lines when I bought the Satisfaction) I put a "FREE NETS!" sign up on the bulletin board and saved myself a bunch of work.

With my lightened workload, I loaded into my truck the new 150-mesh net, the 100 fathoms of 60-mesh mono I stripped, along with the stripped-off corkline, and was out of the Fishermen's Terminal net yard by 8:30 p.m. The corkline had good enough corks to fish in Bristol Bay, so I drove over to the Peter Pan warehouse, where I planned on leaving it outside the fence with a note attached, asking them to add it to my stuff to ship north. When I got there the gate was wide open and the guys were working away on something. I couldn't believe my eyes, because for the last three times I had tried dropping something off at the warehouse during business hours, there was nobody there and I couldn't get in. Now, at 9 at night, here they were working away like little elves. I figured they were running drugs or something. No matter what their business, I was happy they were there so I could drop off my corkline and be on my way.

My final destination was to the Satisfaction, which was in the yard in La Conner. On the way I stopped at a hardware super-store, which was open until 10 p.m., and picked up a barbecue for the Discovery and some miscellaneous stuff for Bristol Bay. I was out of there by 10:30, and I made it to my boat by 11:30.

The boat was a disaster. The day I left it we were late for an Xmas party in Des Moines, so I didn't give it the final organization. Everything was everywhere, and by the time I got things put away, the boat plugged in and myself unwound, it was 1:30 a.m.

I worked on all three of my fisheries in one day: longline, Bristol Bay and Puget Sound gillnetting, and now it was time to sleep.

TO BE CONTINUED...

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