Wednesday, July 7, 2010
55 Kings, 24 Coho, 2 Chum
I done beat the hell out of some fish. Literally. One of my many jobs was to knock the incoming fish out and bleed them to prevent them from flopping around the deck and losing their scales. And steering the boat. And cleaning the non-king/Chinook salmon. And cooking. I tried cranking the gurdies and did a few times but was physically unable to do more.
It was the hardest I have worked in a long time. Harder than fighting fire. Harder than thinning trees. I am exhausted to the core. And unbelievably happy.
Every morning started at dawn, which this time of year is 3 am. TDF was pulling the anchor at 3 while I laid in bed below for a few minutes longer. Once the chain was up I had to get up and turn off the anchor winch and start driving so he could set the gear. Between turns, I would throw food together for breakfast and pray the coffee maker would brew 2 cups worth of coffee. That thing is a crotchety piece of work. It makes me very sweary.
Oh, my, was I ever sweary. Every fish that I couldn't beat down was a filthy motherf***er. Mom, you would be so proud of me.
That was my view for nearly 18 hours a day. Those are the tattle tales in front (the little V things all the way on the bow by the anchor). They are springs with cowbells on them hooked to the trolling line. When a fish strikes a lure, they bounce and jangle. After awhile I could tell the difference between a King and a Coho on the line. I could even estimate the size.
My dear, dear husband would sing, "ring my beeeeelll, ring my bell" by Anita Ward while waiting for a strike. All I could think of was More Cowbell.
The first hour we were fishing we caught 10 kings, and by noon there were 18 kings and 15 coho onboard. It was chaotic. I was running between the wheel house and the pit, making sure to both steer and bleed the fish while tDF hauled them over the side. Thank God for adrenaline because otherwise I would have collapsed.
We ran around the Sitka area quite a bit. We fished as far south as Whale bay and as far north as Salisbury Sound. We wanted to stay longer in Whale bay but ended up leaving early due to incoming bad weather. It was supposed to blow 25 knots and we couldn't get stuck out there with a hold full of Salmon. You have to sell within 5 days of catching the fish and we couldn't let $2,000 worth of fish go bad.
I am tired today, but wanted to leave you with a few photos:
Me holding up a 45 pound king we caught in whale bay. I can barely hold the fish up by its gillplate.
TDF with a really huge king from Crawfish inlet. This one hit the line like a ton of bricks. Look at how fat his tail is.