Wednesday, July 15, 2009
The picture is of Lovie with our first Reds!
Well, we finally caught fish today! Overall catch was pretty small, but a catch nonetheless! We sold a total of 37 Reds with a total weight of 196 lbs. That's about 5.3 pounds per fish, which is not bad.
It all started this morning at 3:30am when we had to get up and get things ready to make a beach set by 5, then 2 boat sets as soon as possible thereafter. We got to fish till 6pm, when the gear all must be out of the water. A couple of info bits might make this actually mean something to those who haven't got any idea what I'm talking about!
First, the openings, or times that we can fish, are pretty complex. I don't pretend to understand the rules, but the general idea is that fish are trying to get to the river to spawn, and we're trying to catch them. So are other predators, and sport fishermen once they actually reach the river. Just to tell you how many of THEM there are, try bumper to bumper traffic non-stop from Anchorage, and shoulder to shoulder fishermen in the Kenai and Kasilof rivers when we came down on Saturday.
There are some "regular" fishing days, typically Monday and Thursday from 7 am to 7pm. There are laws that mandate a 24 hour and a 36 hour closure, not fished each week, which can vary from week to week as to where the time is closed off.
The biologists that monitor things on the rivers determine each day, usually by the time the fishing day is done, what will happen the next day or two. There is a phone hotline that plays a recorded message, that we check religously. So, at noon today, we know we weren't going to have to fish all night, but would fish a regular 7-7 day tomorrow. Beyond that, we don't know!
The beach set is made from a semi-permanent anchor setup out in the surf. Today, we could reach the buoy with the truck at low tide, just before opening time. We hook our net lines ( cork- the top line, and lead-the heavy bottom line) to lines running from the anchor buoy. We have pre-stacked the net in the back of the pickup so it will flake out without tangline, and we drive toward the beach, following another line that is always left connected to the buoy setup. This line, or "Tight Line" runs to a post embedded on the beach. The Tight Line runs thru the buoy setup and back to another post on the shore. Thus, once the net is attached to the line, you can adjust how far out in the water it actually sets, if needed. We pull the net up as far as it will go, and attach it to the heavy post onshore. It is just laying there on the beach, and when the tide comes in, the corks begin to float and it is fishing. We were able to check most of it from the boat today, and the rest we sat and watched as the tide went out, picking fish as it receded.
The offshore sets are a little more technical. Without getting in to detail this post, there are 2 permanent anchors with buoys for a site, spaced where a 210 foot net will fish between them. A Tight Line holds them the prescribed distance apart. We come in the boat, hook a big snap to the tight line, tie the ends to one buoy, and race like the dickens to the other buoy, letting the net fly out the back as we go. With tide, waves, and wind pushing against you, it can be a real race to get all the way to the last buoy. If we do, I clip that end to the buoy, and we get out of the way. The net is now fishing. It's about 18 feet deep with the lead lines pulling down to spread it, and the corks floating it. Fish swim along and get stuck in it, hopefully! More details later, as we fish at 7 tomorrow and are exhausted! Pulling lines in and out of the boat all day, bouncing around at high speed standing in the bow of the skiff, and tossing fish sort of does it to you!! Awesome workout!
Sad news -- we just got news from Annie that Les's dad, Norman, passed away this evening at 6pm Montana time. That's never easy, and our thought are with them.