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When all the gear was set, it was time now to begin catching anything that might have bitten while you were putting out all the hooks (36 or so). You always had to have a pattern for your eyes: first you looked at the port pole's springs to check for even the most remote of twitches. A tiny move that was not normal could signal that one of the hooks had struck something, maybe a weed or small fish, and was no longer fishing. So your number of chances had now dropped to 35 or so hooks. Pull it in and check everything. Reset this gear. You must always have all your hooks fishing. This isn't play here; it's serious as hell.

Then your eyes went to the oil gauge. At all costs, the oil pressure had to be normal.
If not, the engine would be immediately shut down. It would be now a call for help to your friends. If none answered, then you sent out a "Mayday." The coast guard would now come. No oil pressure was a very serious event and failure to take immediate and appropriate action would result in the destruction of the engine.

Now your eyes moved to the starboard pole, again to check for anything abnormal.
Then you looked around a bit, noticing the tack of other boats. Was a collision eminent? If so, you had to knock the auto pilot off and resume control manually of the helm. Set a new tack; restart the pilot and return to fishing.
You now moved your eyes back to the port pole and repeated all of the moves previously described: port pole, oil gauge, starboard pole, look ahead, port pole and on and on all day until too dark to fish.

If this sounds a bit monotonous, let me avow that it is; it is monotony ad nauseum.
And when things would become no more eventful than your simple eye drill, and it would continue for hours on end, you became tired, bored, angry and confused all at the same time. Sleep, if only you could sleep! But no, you could cause a collision doing that, or, worse, you could allow the boat to go upon the rocks. Not only would your boat be lost but maybe your life as well. I saw a boat do this once and it was smashed to small pieces. Fortunately, the three man crew was spared.

To cause or be involved in a collision was a most terrible thing. One time off Bodega
Bay in California, I had my marine radio on (it was actually required to be on at all times while fishing in case of an emergency) and I heard the dreaded call, "MAYDAY! MAYDAY! MAYDAY!"
It was made by a crewman whose captain was upon the deck and had turned blue.
He didn't have a clue as to what to do. Apparently a collision with another troller had occurred and the captain had gone forward to attempt to work the boat free. This is often almost impossible to do because of all the cables and chains and booms. But you had to try. The captain had tried but fell back with a heart attack.
"This is the Lee Ann Rose and the captain ain't movin and he ain't breathin either," said the deckhand, "what can I do?"
I could always tell when there was fear in the radio because the voice would have that little quaver, even a stutter sometimes. There was fear big time in the voice I heard.
The coast guard has a practiced drill where they ask the name of the vessel, its position, color, number of people on board, the nature of the distress. and so on.
But I kept thinking, as these practiced questions were being asked, shut up with this nonsense. There is man on the deck who is not breathing. He has only four minutes to live. Give the crewman some instructions in CPR. Rescue this man!
But the guardsman, who sounded like a kid, kept on with his questions.
"What Should I do?" repeated the crewman, "he don't look too good. He's blue and cold. What should I do for God's sakes?"
The kid continued with asking about the color of the boat, number of people on board and so forth.
The four minutes came and went. And then the deckhand says,"I think he's dead. I don't hear no heart. I'm scared. I don't like being on no boat with no deadman."
Hours later another fishing boat hauled the dead man's boat ashore. There was an ambulance with lights flashing waiting at the boat ramp.
I was very upset at all this. Damn, that man had some loved ones somewhere and he had sacrificed his life trying to catch these stinking fish. I definitely thought I should quit. But how? You can't get out of the business easily. And I am going to talk it about somewhere down the road when it seems to fit better in this account of what it is like as a salmon killer.
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