Good Fishing, Bad Bets

We arrived on the blackcod grounds around 2 a.m. on Sunday, April 9, and promptly set out three 25-skate strings. We were behind schedule for getting a full day of fishing in on the first day because the gear needed time to soak, so we hauled only two strings the first day.

The second day we baited three full strings, but the weather had turned to easterly 35 knots, so Roald opted to stop baiting any more gear, and keep the third string aboard, even though it was baited. Fishing was pretty good, with strings of 2,000 to 4,500 pounds of round-weight blackcod, and absolutely zero whale harassment. We wrapped up the third day by starting at 4 a.m. and spooled up the final two strings before we headed for Seward around noon on Tuesday, April 11.

We were waiting at the Resurrection Bay Seafoods dock in Seward on Wednesday, April 12, for our 8 a.m. offload appointment. The offload and the landing went quickly, as they usually do with RBS, and I ran and got groceries while we were being offloaded. By 3:30 we had taken ice and were potentially ready to head out again. The weather forecast called for winds from 30 to 50 knots, so we opted to bait only one string of blackcod gear that day and wait to see what the forecast said in the morning.

I committed a betting error regarding how many fish we had on this delivery. I figured we had 24,200 pounds of blackcod according to my estimates from adding up my best guess at how many fish were in each string. George figured we had more than 28,000 pounds, and the numbers George tells Roald is what goes into the log book, so that’s what Roald figured.

I was so confident about my estimates, which were backed by Brett’s estimate of 21,800 pounds, which he derived from looking at how many fish were in the bins in the hatch when he iced them, that I offered Roald a $50 bet that my guess is closer than his. Roald personalized his guess to slightly less than George’s, and bet me with 26,000 pounds for his lucky number.

While we were delivering, I coaxed George into the bet, but he didn’t want to go in for $50, so I suggested we each go in for $20 and whoever is closest would win $20 from everybody. Brett was in with his number, and Mike picked a number somewhere in the middle, and Roald and I had our numbers, so it was a full-crew deal.

It turns out we had more than 30,000 pounds of halibut, which threw my and Brett’s estimation techniques out the window. It was acrid stomaching the fact that we had to pay George $20, but the worst part for me was that I had already made the bet with Roald, and since he was bumped by Georges higher guess, AND because we already had a sealed agreement that he never agreed to change, I had to pay Roald as well, so I was into this bet for $70! I should have kept my mouth shut.


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