August 5, 2005

Charter fishing day. Rained most of the night, but no wind. Prospects good for getting out for halibut today. Up at 4:30, up to the top of the harbor access ramp by 5:15 to meet my ride over to Sealing Cove, departure point for Reel Affairs Charters. My shuttle driver, October (her name), pulls in with her ubiquitous white 9 passenger van with the fishing rod for antenna, at the agreed upon 5:20 am. She stops to pick up a couple more fishermen at a nearby motel, and then drives over the bridge to Sealing Cove harbor. The deck hand is on board the boat to greet me (apparently bait boys – what they called deckhands the last time I went charter fishing – have gotten promoted, and are now referred to as deck hands). Young fellow from Idaho named Jessie, he readily confessed that this was only his third day as a deck hand, and he was having problems with sea sickness. The previous one recently quit, and Jessie got shifted from the fish processing line. Skipper Jeremy showed up next, followed up by the other two fishermen Lee and his 15 year old son Corrie, from Boca Raton Florida. The boat is a 27 foot Seasport, well set up for our small fishing party.

Engines fire up a little after 6 am and we head out, in search of coho, and perhaps a stray king. We run south for almost a hour at over 20 knots, mostly inside little islands but occasionally pounding past openings to the open ocean, with their attendant swells. The salmon fishing spot is close in to a small island with a steep cliff face which drops right in to the water. Two other Reel Affair boats are there, either trolling or mooching. With only 3 fishermen aboard, we troll, one rod baited with whole herring, the other with flasher and hoochie (plastic squid), both on downriggers at either 50 or 75 feet of depth. I hook up first, with what initially seems like a king, but ends up being a nice, big ling cod. Unfortunately, season is closed for ling, so he gets shaken off the hook. Nice coho start hitting, and we rotate pulling in the fish. They run between 4 and 9 lbs, most around 6 lbs. Limit is 6 each, and we have our 18 by 9:45 am. Very good fishing. We pick up a couple of pinks as well, which we save for halibut bait.

Conditions sound good out on open water for halibut. It’s been too rough the last couple days to try, and I’m fortunate to be out on the first decent day. By decent I mean wind at 7 knots, swell around 4 feet, later settling to 2 feet. Sounds great until you’ve rolled around in it, at anchor, for 4 hours, with the air periodicly flavored with the scent of halibut bait (translate: bloody salmon guts). The deck hand does fine until he has 2 of the 3 rods baited, and then he starts turning white, then green, and his breathing becomes labored. A real trooper, he hangs in there until all rods are baited and fishing. We wait about a half hour before the first bite. Corrie cranks up the first halibut, a nice 30 pounder. Big job bringing one of these fish up from 360 feet down. The bite is fairly steady thereafter, but we miss many hits. We end up with 5 halibut, one shy of the limit, and for a bonus, catch 5 yellow eye, a type of snapper which run about 8 lbs a piece. One shy of a limit for yellow eye as well. Excellent day of fishing, and it turns out that our boat did the best of the Reel Affairs boats. Poor Jessie has had a tough time of it, and can only look forward to another day of it tomorrow. Jeremy promises that he’ll get accustomed, and things will get better. Jessie wants to believe, but I don’t know if he really buys it.

We’re back to the dock by 4 pm. October meets me there for the ride back to Thomsen Harbor. Sandy is not at the boat, so I assume (correctly) that she’s up at the laundry. I walk up and find her there. She’s already taken her shower, but just before I get to the door a scruffy old timer grabs the one shower in the place. 45 minutes later I’m still waiting for him to finish up. When he finally leaves I notice the big plastic bag he’s hauling out, and I conclude that he likely did his laundry in the shower room sink.

We grab dinner at (yuk) McDonalds and then pick up on last minute groceries. Getting tired by the time we get things stowed and ready for the sack. It’s still raining. I’m placing my hopes on a rumor of sun tomorrow.

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