A New Page of the Salmon Killers Part IX

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by BOBLAWLESS, Jan 29, 2003.

  1. BOBLAWLESS New Member

    Posts: 2,879
    Port Ludlow, WA, USA.
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    Some of the worst times experienced were simply the mornings, that time of day from awakening to setting the gear in the ocean. Nothing was pleasant about this. Awakening when you are deprived of sleep, sometimes for days, is never easy. I always placed the alarm far enough away so that I would have to get out of bed to shut it off. The trailer was always cold, the outside even colder and very dark. Dawn would not come for an hour or so , but you had to hurry to arrive on the fishing grounds before the light hit the water.

    At daybreak, there was always a magic time when the bait, mostly herring, would be up near the surface, and the salmon, mostly King Salmon, would be right under them and very hungry. Almost always I would get a fish or two during the magic time, and they might be the only fish for the day--enough to pay for the gas. These fish, as others would say, would get the stink off your boat ( when you took a fish, you had to put it in the hold which was kind of stinky due to blood that collected here and there even though you tried to keep things as clean as possible. Thus, opening the hold would air it out; you got the stink off your boat.

    I tried to deliver the best product I could. This was human food: some would be eaten raw. You had your pride..

    I hated getting out of the cozy, warm bed and into the fray. But I had to do this; I was committed and driven to do my best. Plus, if you stayed in bed, everyone would ask where you where. My peers were tough and I had to avoid shame. So get up dammit!

    Always sort of nauseous, I didn't eat much, a doughnut and V-8 would be it. I'd make coffee for the thermos and choke down a cup or two for myself. The very first thing on arising, even before the toilet, was to turn on the Mickey (a CB radio) and the VHF( a powerful marine radio) so that I could listen for the slightest bit of news. I always hoped maybe Shorty would be already out on the grounds and someone might call and say, "Hey Short, what's it look like?," Though I never met him, this would be Old Saw Horse, maybe a retired carpenter, and, as stated, I never saw him, but I thought I knew him well because of the radio.. And I hoped that Short would say, "Not for me today. I'm comin' back."

    With these words, you could almost hear a huge collective thud as hundreds of heads fell back upon their pillows and immediately went back to sleep with the day off. I would yelp for joy because now I might fry up a pound of bacon and a dozen eggs and eat it all up, washing it down with plenty of strong coffee, sometimes wine ( I only did this once). Maybe a round of golf now. Or just sleep all day. What a treat! Get a paper and read everything in it. Wow!

    But most days Short would say,"Get your ass out of bed. It looks fishable but it's kinda' nasty and there's wind. But I'm going out and see what happens."

    Damn! Probably rough as hell, balls to the walls, and the talk of wind already is not a good thing. With only a slight increase in wind, what was a marginal sea state would go over the top and become dangerous. How did we know not know that this early wind would not quickly become a gale? Maybe it would blow for days as it often did. How did we know? But if Shorty was going to fish, then I had to fish. Shorty fished tough water though, and I didn't trust his judgment as a result. But I had to go out and look. There was no choice here.

    With talk of wind, many fisherman would go to "Chicken Point." Here, on this bluff where you could see the ocean, even in the dark, men would gather to discuss the waves and the swell. This was difficult in the dark of night, but if any of the waves could be seen breaking, most would not fish and they were the chickens. I always said, " Well, I'm goin' out and see what happens." Sometimes this was just a lie and I'd go back to the trailer and go back to sleep.

    However, most days, even when dangerous for a small boats, we’d fish. We were driven by the money. I know of no job where men risk their lives so that others could eat the delicious salmon which the whole world doted on. .I always hoped that in a nice, warm restaurant somewhere as a patron dug in to a beautiful salmon fillet, that they wuld sy,"Isn't this just wonderful? They have beautiful fish here. I wonder who caught them?" No fishing-no salmon. For bucks, you risked your life. No risks--no bucks or salmon. This was all plain and simple capitalism in its rawest and cruelest form. Few questioned this most basic truth.

    I'd go back to camp worrying about the hard day ahead. I knew that the boat would roll violently, and to keep my feet all day, my legs would become completely worn out. It would be a dog tired day and probably no fish. Damn that Shorty!

    Now I had to rush to make it out by first light. Get my lunch out of the freezer, always the same thing, a baloney, brunswieger and cheese on French bread sandwich and a beer. On the boat, there would be a case of canned herring to munch on if you needed something to eat before lunch. It was ironic that the fish and the fisherman ate the same thing.

    After stumbling down the stairs, I had to ready the boat, and get the engine started and all gear had to be carefully adjusted and checked as there would be no time for such important tasks once the boat met the sea. You just would be too busy with other things. Now you cast her off, pulling in and stowing all the mooring lines and backing out from the slip to enter the river and begin the mile long downstream trek that let to the ocean. But even here was danger. You might crash into a neighboring boat and gouge the hull. Or you might not turn correctly and go aground or you might block the river and some jerk behind you would run you down in his ignorance to stay a respectful distance behind. Oh what a lovely time. But these minor dangers would pale against the troubles which were surely up ahead. So it was down to the sea in little ships.