Written by Jen Finn
October 21-22, 2007 — I had big plans for direct fish sales from the 2007 Puget Sound chum salmon run. I lined up a couple of my more idealistic crewguys from Bristol Bay to come fishing with me, then stand on the street corner and sell fish out of my truck. I envisioned a growing Fish List in different areas around Puget Sound: Seattle, Tacoma, Everett, Orcas Island... there was no end to the possibilities!
The season opened on Sunday, October 21, 2007. The Satisfaction was more ready to fish than it had ever been since I have owned it. It opened at 4 p.m., and we would be ready to start dressing fish to feed the masses!
Anthony, my willing crew, met me at my boat at 10 a.m. If everything went according to plan he would be leaving by 1 p.m. the next day with over 100 fish cleaned and ready to sell to a fish-starved Tacoma public. We got two totes full of ice, loaded up our night's supplies onto the Satisfaction, and pulled out of Shilshole Marina at 3 p.m.
I fished in front of the city of Seattle, just north of the Seattle/Bainbridge ferry route, out near the shipping lanes. Fishing wasn't bad! I started off with close to 200 fish on my first set, and although I had nothing close to that for the remainder of the night, we wound up with a really decent night of close to 400 big, bright chum salmon.
As the fish came aboard the boat we picked them out of the net and immediately stabbed them in the neck to bleed out. We held out 50 fish to dress while our second set soaked in the water. I propped the dressing board into place between the side of the drum and the rail, and went to work. I chopped off the head, pulled out the guts, and scraped the bloodline. Then I tossed the fish forward into a small tote full of water and let them swill around until Anthony rinsed them clean and packed them carefully into the ice chest.
It is a lot of work, and consumes the time in which we would normally take a break after picking 200 fish from a 170-mesh-deep gillnet, which is no small task. We were all done dressing and rinsing and icing when it was time to pick up the third set, and we had just a short time to lay back and relax before we had to haul our fourth and final set of the night. We were all done at closing time with over 80 fish dressed and packed neatly away in ice chests, and another pile of fish in the hatch to total 400 fish. We were exhausted.
With the night's fishing behind us we headed into Shilshole to off-load our dressed fish and deliver the remainder of the fish to the tender. There was no tender in Shilshole, so we had to wait for the Lieth W to run down from Kingston, which I didn't mind; it was better than having to run up to Kingston, and then run back. In fact, it worked out great because Anthony and I took the opportunity to off-load the three ice chests full of No. 1 grade, freshly caught Puget Sound Keta salmon.
With his truck loaded, Anthony was off in a flash, taking with him the first of many loads of fresh salmon, which will now be made available to the insatiable Tacoma market. The Puget Sound salmon direct sales networking machine was in action!!!
TO BE CONTINUED...
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