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.

Saturday, March 24, 2012 — We are back in Sitka.

We delivered our catch today. We fished one day on halibut and caught my quota, which I must say wasn't much, but fishing in Southeast Alaska can be pretty scratchy, and it has been a challenge in years past. The fish were really nice, and really big. Lots of 40-60-pounders. Most boats have had decent trips lately, which I'm sure makes the Sitka locals very happy.

And while we were halibut fishing, we caught a decent supply of rockfish to donate to Fish for Teeth, which is the charitable organization I started a few years ago to provide dental care to those who cannot otherwise afford it. Fish for Teeth recently made big progress when we brought a dental van to Friday Harbor, Wash., and in two days fixed 28 people's teeth, with $12,900 worth of dental treatments, and 51 hours logged by our volunteer dental professionals. Check it out at fishforteeth.com. And remember, it all started from just a few stray rockfish that came up on the halibut gear.

The halibut fishing was good, but the blackcod fishing was even better; and while we really cranked through the gear, it came at a cost. We ran over 24,000 hooks in the two days of blackcod fishing. This isn't anything new, but we are now fishing without Brett, who for the past 24 or so years has been a part of the program on this boat. Brett's absence is quite apparent, especially for the old guys.

Yes, we have the kid (Mike's son, Rich) in Brett's place, and yes, the kid is doing a great job, and is working hard, and doesn't bitch, and has a good attitude, and learns fast, blah blah blah. But there is just no substitute for Brett. Now we all have to hustle a lot more. Before, we had our routine down so well we hardly hustled for anything, and we were done every night by 7 p.m. As it is now, we've been bustin' ass all day, then getting to bed by 10 p.m. I can handle this, because I just need less sleep, but as I said, the older guys (which is everybody, aside from the kid) are having a tough go of it.

But still, despite everyone's exhaustion, we are pressing on without delay. The weather is really good now, so we shall sally forth! We came in after three days' fishing, immediately started off-loading our catch this morning, and are now planning on leaving after we take ice and bait tomorrow, probably around 3 p.m. So I'm sending this off tonight, without delay, because it may be the only chance I get!

TO BE CONTINUED…

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