National Fisherman

Wednesday, October 24, 2007 — Around noontime on Wednesday, October 24, Uncle Rich and I were still exhausted from our previous night of non-stop salmon enslavement. We had before us the relatively simple task of off-loading 120 direct-market fish into my truck so I could sell them the next day on San Juan Island.

The fish were in the hatch suspended in a slushie slurpie of ice, water, and fish, all contained in a slush bag. The porous brailer bag within the slush bag allows the water to run off when the 2-ton crane lifts the bag of fish out of the slurpie solution. The problem we faced was that the crane had some major problem and couldn't lift the bag of fish off the Satisfaction.

When Anthony and I off-loaded, the fish came off in three ice chests with less than 30 fish each, probably weighing in at around 300 pounds each, and the crane handled it just fine. This brailer, full of 120 fish plus the extra weight of trapped water and ice, was closer to 1,200 pounds.

Hence the wrath of the Crane from Hell began. At first Rich and I thought the problem was that the crane wasn't pulling straight up and down, and was triggering the auto-stop safety mechanism, so we screwed around for a while trying to get a straight lift. After doing so we proved we had been wasting our time because that wasn't the problem. So we tried pitching half the fish out of the brailer, but the crane still couldn't lift the load. We pitched out half of those, and the crane lifted it.

At this point we had fish scattered all over the boat, but at least we knew they would be off and in the tote in three more loads. It was a lot of pitching that seemed to take forever, but we got through it. We probably handled each fish two or three extra times, which does nothing for quality, but at least we got them off the boat.

For insult to injury, the gal at the office wanted to charge over $100 for four hours of crane rental. I told her I was trying to decide on an appropriate dollar amount to put on my invoice to Shilshole Marina for wasting so much of my time with a crane that is supposed to lift 4,000 pounds but cannot lift even 400. In spite of my cleaver retort, she still tagged me with a bogus "wharfage" fee, which goes by pounds of freight moved, and came to about $20, thus earning that woman a big black spot in the sphere of cosmic karma surrounding those of us who go the extra mile to provide top quality fresh, local fish to the masses.

The consolation to the whole off-loading fiasco was Uncle Rich and his great attitude. As I was bitching and griping, he would just say, "Yea, but its alright..." and that positive, good-natured outlook made me realize how pointless it was for me to get worked up over a situation I could not anticipate happening, yet nonetheless was working through efficiently and with a good-natured helper.

I had never worked so hard in most any of my fishing experiences; and this is supposed to be my VACATION fishing! I declared that from this point forward I didn't think I could take fish home on days of good fishing, and should only do it on days where I catch just a couple hundred fish at the most. Conversely, all Uncle Rich could talk about was how much fun he had and how glad he was he got to come, all the while thanking me profusely for inviting him. I LOVE Uncle Rich!


Inside the Industry

Legislators from Connecticut and Massachusetts complained about the current “out-of-date allocation formula” in black sea bass, summer flounder and scup fisheries in a letter to the U.S. Department of Commerce earlier this week.


The Southeast Alaska Fishermen’s Alliance recently announced that the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation has awarded the organization a Hollings Grant to reduce whale entanglements in Alaska salmon fisheries by increasing the use of acoustic whale pingers to minimize entanglements in fishing gear.


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