Pounds and Pounds of Humpies

So we didn’t quite hit the 1,000,000 mark, but we did end up catching more fish. Expected, right? We did a little over 400,000 pounds of pink salmon (humpies) and although the boat will be out for another week or so, I decided to get off a little early to play tourist. Plus, I was going a bit mad being cooped up on the boat. Kind of expected as well.

In all honesty, fishing is tough. I will admit it. And it’s not necessarily the physical aspect of it either. I was pretty sore just about every day from back aches to banging my head/knee/elbow on just about everything available to stiff shoulders from sleeping funny to feeling nauseous from the constant rocking. But beyond that, it is really the day-in-day-out aspect that really grinds at you. There’s only so many places you can go on a boat, and regardless of how well you get along with people, being on a boat that long will bring out the worst in you. Trust me.

So on the topic of tough days, I went overboard a little over a week ago. In just about the worst way too. In fishing, line (which is more like rope) is strewn everywhere on the deck and when it’s on its way out of the boat, you want to keep hands/arms/feet/etc. away from the bite. The bite is any loop that is connected to an outgoing line. That’s probably the first golden rule of fishing…if there were such a thing. Well, in this case, my right leg got caught in the bite and the other end of the line was connected to the skiff (a small boat designed to be slow and powerful). There are stories of people getting legs broken and worse, being dragged to the bottom of the ocean, but I was fortunate enough to get away with a bruise and a story.

As I’m writing this, my pictures are uploading to my flikr page. Here’s a little taste of the action (me with a couple of king salmons). Beauties!

Another highlight of our trip was a flair opener a couple days ago. Most years, a hatchery will allow boats to fish near its grounds. The benefit of this is that you know for sure that there are fish in the water. However, there is a window of time that you can fish and a lot of boats to compete with and you can’t start until they fire the flair, thus the flair opener. Essentially, it’s the craziest day of the year and all fishing etiquette goes out the window. Some boats caught up to 170,000 pounds that day and others banged around and got near nothing. Let’s just say that our day was an experience.

And here’s a picture of a jumping fish from the flair opener. Exciting!

I will be making my way to San Francisco during the next week with a stay in Seattle for a few days. If you’re in the Seattle area, let me know. I’d love to connect. And in terms of San Francisco, I have no concrete plans. I will need to unwind for a bit, then get serious again about life…I guess.

There’s more I will add about this trip, but I need to sleep. Honestly. For a long time.

I smell bad

After fishing days on end and not showering, what do you expect? But the beard is starting to grow in thick and looking around me, most other people here have thick facial hair and a sort of natural scent. I guess I’m just acclimitizing.

I have been taking pictures and was planning on posting some proof that I am actually in Alaska, but as internet connection is seldom and often shaky, a post is the best I can do for now. I do have some really good pictures I’d like to share and will get them up as soon as I can.

We just got back in from a six day session and will probably spend a day or so in town to regroup. The total salmon count is almost at 100,000 pounds. Not terribly exciting from historical standards, but it’s making a living and there’s still hope for a big run of salmon to come through. That’s what everyone’s hoping for at least.

It’s been pretty tough up to this point, but it’s slowly getting easier. I still have over a month of fishing left, but I imagine it’ll start flying by pretty soon. Which I guess is both good and bad.

Hope all’s well in your corner of the world.

You, Me, and Humpy

I was warned that I would be sea sick for the first few days. I didn’t expect I would get sea sick on the dock. Luckily, I was able to get over it in a couple of days. Now I can say that I’m an Alaskan commercial fisherman, or a greenhorn as they refer to the newbies.

Kodiak is beautiful and fishing is a combination of down time and intense work. It’s taken me a little while to get the hang of my role on the boat, but slowly I’m picking up the techniques as well as the fisherman lingo. Stacking leads on the starboard side was definitely something I hadn’t done until now.

Oh, you’re probably wondering about humpies. We’re fishing pink salmon, and as they make their way from salt water to fresh water to the spawning grounds, their faces change and the get a big hump on their back. Thus, humpies. Fishing humpies is all about the numbers as there are a lot of them coming though, but the quality of the meat isn’t the greatest. We’ve gone out for a couple of days of fishing and have caught about 18,000 pounds so far. We’re shooting for about 1,000,000 pounds, so we have a lot of work left. Hopefully it’ll start to pick up pretty soon and we’ll be well on our way.

That’s it for now. Battling a bad internet connection here at the dock, but I’ll be sure to put some stories up soon as the fishing progresses.

Oh, and due to all the votes, I’ll be growing a mustache. I was thinking of the bell bottom mustache, but if you have any other suggestions, let me know. It’ll be mustache 2.0.