At the dock at the back of the bay, I met another troller who lived on an island near Craig. He’d helped replace my brother in law’s engine in Craig, and replaced an alternator for Paul once in Port Protection. That’s Southeast Alaska commercial fishing for you. I didn’t realize I missed it that much til I came back to it.
Back at it for my second trip hand trolling. I feel like I’m 40 again. I was fishing day 1 and only had one clatter of 4 fish between 8 am and 5 pm. At about 5 pm, the tender came into Funter Bay and everyone but me went in to sell. Then I saw a cluster of gulls diving on feed. I headed their way. Next thing I know, I’ve got 16 fish on board. The wind had picked up from the south, so when I had trolled out of the fish, I pulled in all my gear and headed south to where I started catching them, turned north, put in the gear, and trolled north again. I got 5 more the second pass, then wrapped the port wire in the kicker prop. That stopped everything for awhile, but it came out quite easily. Only having to lift a 10 lb cannon ball is easy. I remember having to lift 60 lbers on the Dutch Master during mishaps and how much fun that wasn’t. I got two dozen fish in all for the day, and might have made 30 if not for the wire in the prop. I quit on the third pass as it was getting dark and I headed to the dock to tie up.
I saw my first sea otter in North Chatham today, and I also saw a shark swim by at the surface with it’s dorsal fin out of the water, just like in the movies. Also, saw a deer hide and offal float by, and reminded me deer season is open and glad someone got some winter meat somewhere.
I tied up in the back dock and as soon as I shut off my outboard, I heard the golden pipes of Gordy. He grew up a couple doors down from our house, and I used to take clams to his parents. I worked with him during Hazardous Household Waste days, and he borrowed my fish tote when he was out trolling. Then another kid came by. He was the son of a trolling mentor, and his uncle was a mentor to me in Kodiak. This is what I missed about trolling.
The southerly wind was worse the second day. I started at sunrise, but the wind kept building all day. I made several more runs at the same place I had yesterday, and managed 14 before the waves were more than I wanted to bear in my little boat, and I headed to the dock for a nap and hoped it would die down later in the day and I could get back out. Instead, it only blew harder.
It was pretty lumpy at the dock. I told the Craig troller there was another public dock, and he didn’t know about it. I said I’d run over to it and let him know if it was better. It was. I called the Craig troller to tell him to come over, and he did. The tender showed up and I was the first to sell. The captain was a favorite student of Sara’s who went on to play on the women’s basketball team at UAA and then came back to Juneau to coach the women’s team at the new high school. I sent a photo of her on her boat to Sara. She and her crew member worked for several hours into the night offloading the Funter Bay fleet. They earn their money.
Today, the wind was still blowing, but I thought I could get my gear in and fish with the wind all the way north to Pt Retreat, and then head home, as I had to deliver fish tomorrow for our fish selling business. When I got up, there was a live mouse/vole in one of my empty buckets. How did that get in there? I dumped it out on the dock. I caught a few fish on the way to Cordwood Creek, but not sure where as it was so lumpy I couldn’t tell I had fish on the gear. When I ran along the shore from Cordwood to False Pt Retreat, it was really lumpy. And fishy. There were lots of fish here and I was again the only one there. I pulled my gear once past False Pt Retreat, and beat my brains in against the 3 foot waves back down to Cordwood to start again. I did this 2 or 3 times. I scratched 16 fish, and 14 of them were hogs.
I called in to the fish processor at Auke Bay and they said to bring the fish in and they’d be glad to buy them. My last tack north I continued from False Pt Retreat to Point Retreat and then pulled in all my gear as I was at the open/closed border, then cleaned the last two fish, and headed for the processor. I kept one seal-bit fish back for Chris, sold the rest to the processor, loaded my small fish tote with ice for the next trip, then headed for our crab pots.
The pots were loaded. Boy this was my day. I had saved roe from 3 female fish to rebait the 3 pots, plus the head from the fish for Chris. Then I headed for the boat ramp. I refueled the boat, then brought it home, and delivered the fish and crab to Chris and his crew.
I had boy scouts at 7, and had about an hour and half to do some chores. I pulled off my dirty laundry, and when I looked into a dry bag – there was another live mouse! I dumped it out to run into the woods. Now I’ll have to pull everything out of the little cabin to be sure there are no more. I wonder if they got onto the boat in my driveway and were with me all the time, or did they jump on at the dock in Funter Bay? A serious mystery.