Fishing Report

I’m home again from fishing.

For some reason, it’s difficult to stay out fishing when the numbers drop off. 

Last week, my deckhand Brian Huntsman quit after 2.5 weeks.  Admittedly, we hadn’t really gotten into the fish when he quit so he didn’t get a chance to see how quickly the money can pour in.  But also, he got seasick fairly easily in combination of small boat and small chop that the Lynn Canal throws at us so often.  He said it just wasn’t fun anymore.  I can now see why many gillnetters will not take a chance on training a greenhorn deckhand.  It’s a real bummer to spend 2-3 weeks training someone, so that they can help out when the fish really hit, just to have them ditch when the fishing picks up.  Experience and dedication count for a lot in my book now.

Thankfully, Jim Green, a good friend of the family wanted to try gillnetting, and agreed to come out for a couple of weeks.  Jim is an experienced seaman and is quite familiar with sailboats and powerboats, but had never been out commercial fishing.  He’s also quite good with boat maintenance and keeping the boat ship-shape. 

We had a good first week together of fishing, but had some major overheating problems with the engine and had to limp through the July 6-11 week.  We were running into some seas and the engine overheated causing the expansion tank to blow out one of its ends and which caused the coolant system to fail–bummer.  Real bummer.  Karl Johnson was nearby and kept us off the rocks until our tender came out and got us.

We figured something went wrong with the radiator cap so that the pressure in the system wasn’t relieved.

We were down for about 6 hours doing a repair with Marine Tex, a very cool epoxy that is used often to fix metal, fiberglass, wood, and other things and has the cool property of setting up fast and keeping its bond in high temperatures.  Then we were able to go fishing.  Later on, after the expansion tank was fixed, I put a cap on the tank that accidentally closed and sealed in the pressure and it blew again.  Boy, did I ever feel stupid then!  Thankfully, we were well off the beach this time and Randy Jackson on the Pappy Frost came up from the postage stamp area to pull us in to the harbor so we could make repairs.  Oddly enough, Mike Saunders was in the harbor working on his raw water cooling system and was able to loan us five gallons of fresh water to recharge our system.

We then discovered that air was being let into the coolant system by the engine causing local hot spots and catastrophic engine over-heats when running the engine hard.  We decided, quickly, not to run the engine hard and to stop every 15 minutes to bleed the air out of the high point in the system.

We also caught about a 4-5 foot dolphin in the net!  Wow that was wild.  It was struggling to stay above water while wrapped in multiple layers of mesh, intertwined with cork-line, weed-line, and lead-line.  We got him out by reaching over the edge of the boat and cutting the web in front of his face so he could swim out.  It worked really well and before too long he was swimming away doing the dolphin kick.

The cool thing about fishing this year is that the grounds price for dogs is $0.55/lb.  Wow.  I can hardly believe it’s that high.  When I first started out gillneetting in 2001, the price was $0.17/lb and we were having to strip all the roe to make it profitable.

We left the grounds on Friday morning after a couple of so-so sets.