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.
October 10 to 16, 2011 — With no substantial fishing opportunities to speak of for a couple weeks, I had a chance to catch up on some much-needed loose ends on the Satisfaction before the fall keta, or chum, salmon season began. I fixed my bow thruster, got my alarms working properly, and rewired the fishing lights in the mast; none of these jobs would shut the operation down, but they all could lead to disastrous ends.
September 18, 2011 — The newly revamped, now 21-foot open gillnet skiff Lady Ruth paid a few of its bills on the third week of the silver fishery in Bellingham Bay. The fishery reopened after a two-day closure on Sunday, September 18. It was a blustery day as the southerly wind swept the swell onto the flats of the northern shore of Bellingham Bay. With Linda as my faithful crew member, I arrived 10 minutes before the 7 a.m. opening time, found my spot, and slapped it out on the flats near the mouth of the Nooksak River.
August 21 to September 11, 2011 — I took a few weeks off of fishing after the August 21 king opening because I had to attend to a boat project that I had been putting off. I needed to re-do the engine mount on my 18-foot open skiff, the Lady Ruth, so I opted to do a backyard hull extension with fiberglass and polyester resin. The guys at the Petrzelka Brothers' boatyard in Mount Vernon, Wash., were willing to fabricate an aluminum extension/engine mount, but I didn't want to pay the price. I figured I could do it myself on the cheap.
So I hired a very competent glassman off Craigslist, bought a whole bunch of material, and went to work on the Lady Ruth. To make a long story short, I would have been money ahead to have the guys at Petrzelka Brothers do it. I missed three openings where I could have made a few bucks, not to mention the entire pink salmon season around the island. And I missed those nice fishing opportunities because I was neck-deep in fiberglass laminations, all gooped up with a gas mask strapped to my face, working long hours and cursing my decision to save a few bucks — in the long run I'm certain it cost me more to do it myself.
My goal was to make the silver opening on September 4, and I almost did, but it would have been total chaos in unorganized confusion. Instead I took my time tying up the loose ends of the boat, and made the September 11 opening — in which there were no fish.
You live and learn.
TO BE CONTINUED...
I sold our freshly-caught sockeye on Friday, August 12, at the San Juan Island Food Co-op, and again Linda sold them at the farmers market on the following day. We also brought back all of our pink salmon, which she sold at the market for only $7 or $9 each, depending on the size.
Thursday, July 14 — After sitting on the beach since our last opening on Monday, July 11, we finally got an opening in both the Naknek and Kvichak districts. We have been listening to Fish and Game updates, hoping for an opening, but being disappointed every time because the escapement in the Naknek and Kvichak Rivers have not met their escapement goals. Egegik, which hasn't fished for days on end was finally given an opening for today.
July 10, 2011 — As I write this we are taking a management-imposed break from fishing. The biologist in charge of monitoring the Naknek/Kvichak district of Bristol Bay had the fleet stand down for two tides to allow fish to escape up the river to spawn. Already 750,000 fish have gone by; apparently he wants 1.1 million (that is a midpoint number, so I think 900,000 would be fine for the longevity of the run).
June 25, 2011 — As I write this I have just returned from two openings in Egegik. We can fish in any East Side district through June 24, so I took in a couple of openings down there, where the fish come a couple days before Naknek. It was good fishing, and I made two openings there, and only missed one Naknek opening. I am now registered in Naknek, where I will spend the remainder of the season.
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