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.
April 21-26, 2008 — The most memorable part of this halibut trip was the weather, which was just beautiful to start with. It was nice on the run out from Seward on Monday, April 21; it was nice when we started hauling on Tuesday morning; and it stayed nice all the way through until we were hauling for home on Thursday. Add a comment
April 17-21, 2008 — As we charged out for our final blackcod trip on Thursday, April 17, the weather outside of Seward was great — hardly a breeze and hardly a swell, which was surprising after such a powerful blow the day before; but it was an offshore breeze so there was no residual swell, I suppose. Add a comment
April 7-12, 2008 — The run out on Monday, April 7, was really nice. We tried a spot farther south, closer to the Portlock Bank. We started setting our three strings of 20 skates around 7 a.m. on Tuesday and waited until 3 p.m. to haul the first string, which we reset and called it an easy day by 8 p.m. Add a comment
March 31–April 7, 2008 — We headed out across the Gulf of Alaska in the early afternoon of Monday, March 31. I had dinner ready in the calm waters of Neva Strait on the way to the Salisbury Sound exit point into the gulf.
Once we were outside we started baiting the halibut gear. Since the boat was bucking into a fair amount of swell, it was an awfully twitchy ride back in the baithouse. I wasn't into that, so I decided to bait my gear on the hatch cover, and I had a very peaceful time of it, enjoying not being whipped around by the Discovery's twitchy roll.
We arrived at the halibut grounds on the evening of Wednesday, April 2, and set out one string of halibut gear. In the early hours of Thursday, April 3, still covered in darkness, we set two blackcod strings, then finished up by setting two halibut strings just after first light. We went right into hauling the halibut string with the long soak, then followed right up with the two we set at first light. We had about 12,000 pounds of flat ones, and were done really early, like 6 p.m.
I was hoping to haul a string of blackcod gear, but the bait was still too frozen to cut up so we wouldn't be able to bait while we hauled. We waited until morning, which I'm sure was the plan the whole time. We started hauling at 3:00 on the morning of Friday, April 4.
Blackcod fishing was good, with close to 5,000 pounds our first string. But as we hauled, George ushered in a big debate on whether we should quit fishing because of the weather. I think George just wanted to go into Seward so we could go up to the bar on Saturday night. In any event, as we baited our second string of the day, the wind started to breeze up, and the tides were running strong, plus for some strange reason the last two strings brought us very few fish.
Result: George got his wish; we stopped baiting and just hauled back the two remaining strings for a total of around 8,000 pounds of blackcod for our abbreviated three-string trip. It was just as well we did stop because had we kept fishing another day we would have had a stiff north wind in our face and had a really shitty run into Seward, so maybe there is something to George's ominous weather predictions.
We got into Seward at 3 a.m. on Saturday, April 5. I woke up to help tie the boat up, and then stayed up until 7 a.m. writing on my computer. I jumped into bed to make it look like I had slept because these guys already think my sleep schedule is totally out of whack, and woke up with the rest of the guys around 7:30 (I actually pulled off a 20-minute power snooze).
We baited our gear on Saturday, then delivered on Sunday morning, April 6. We started baiting on Monday with plans of taking ice on Tuesday afternoon and then leaving for fishing Tuesday night. We were supposedly in no rush to get out fishing because the tides were very strong, and we wanted to wait until they slacked off a bit.
But on Monday, April 7, just as we were baiting up our last skates, we got notice that the RBS plant wanted to give us ice right away. When this happened, I knew we were going to be gone soon, because with all the gear baited and the ice aboard, there was no way we were going to hang around town doing nothing.
Once we reached the RBS dock to get ice, I had only time to get groceries and we were outta there, looking to come back to Seward with a full trip of blackcod in the hatch.
TO BE CONTINUED...
March 25-31, 2008 — We flew into Sitka around 6 p.m. on Tuesday, March 25. Since we arrived right at dinnertime, we decided to try out the Channel Club restaurant — the newly rebuilt, highbrow steak joint — for dinner. We took up bait so it would be thawed the next morning, and we were on our way. Add a comment
March 14-25, 2008 — We delivered our first trip of the season to the Seafood Producers Co-op on Friday morning, March 14. Prices ranged from $3.95 to $4.50 for halibut.
We made this first delivery before there was any sign of herring in Sitka Sound, so the SPC plant had time to fillet the over-limit rockfish for Fish for Teeth, the non-profit organization I started on San Juan Island that looks to fix kid's teeth with money (or fish products) donated from the commercial fishing industry.
Another great thing I finally got a chance to do was swing by the Sitka Sound Seafood plant and buy some insulated fish totes for only $25 each! I'm not sure how much they cost new, but they're not cheap. The totes they have for sale have some kind of damage on them somewhere, but so long as there are no holes in the inside walls of the tote, I am happy.
I bought two totes and Brett bought one, all of which shall be entered into service in the Puget Sound chum salmon fishery direct-marketing efforts. We wound up shipping them to Seattle with Northland shipping.
We went to the bar that night and had a great time. The next morning brought us news of the worst kind; Roald's son had been killed in an industrial accident back at home. Judging from Roald's reaction, this is something I hope nobody has to experience. But as Roald pointed out, it seems only to happen to somebody else, until it actually happens to you.
I booked Roald a flight home that morning; he flew out by noon on Saturday, March 15. We couldn't get out until Monday morning, March 17 — maybe we should have flown independently on standby and it would have brought us all home sooner. I think spring break for Alaskan schools clogged all the flights up.
On Saturday after Roald left town I met up with the PSG film guys. They had come up to film the Sitka Sound herring sac roe purse seine fishery. They had come a bit early because you cannot predict what a herring will do.
I went for a spin around the harbor with them and the fish buyer they were working with, then we parted ways. I had hoped to have a few drinks with them at the bar, but they seem to repel from the idea of going to the bar, so that never happened.
I did cook them dinner on Saturday night, along with Crosby, who was there hoping to get a job in the fishery. He supposedly had one lined up through Keith, his TV-star crab skipper, who actually let Crosby off the crabber early and without penalty because he had the opportunity to be on TV; I have never heard of such an excuse for skippin' out with the cream of the season, but I guess this is a new era for the fishing fleet?
Our time at home was well spent appreciating our loved ones, and of course attending the funeral of Paul Pedersen, Roald's dearly departed son. It was a sad event, indeed.
We headed back up to pick up where we left off on Tuesday, March 25. Everyone agreed, including Roald, that returning to fishing was the best thing to take his mind off of this terrible loss that changed his life so unexpectedly.
TO BE CONTINUED...
March 5-13, 2008 — I left on the last ferry off of San Juan Island on Wednesday, March 5. I had a truckload of frozen island-grown meats, including Rob Waldron's beef, LaCrover farm's pasture-raised chickens, and Guard Sundstrom's lamb. Add a comment
March 9-May 4, 2008 — When we were in Seward during our April 5 delivery, Mike cracked right into the light project. To solve the problem he fabricated an aluminum pipe with flanges on each end that extended the red light 3 feet above the white. Add a comment
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N.C. launches first commercial/recreational dock
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