Gale winds and mountainous seas… and good fishing too

  • Over the last few days we have had some unbelievable fishing here on the Ugashik River. We are unsure as to whether the salmon run is early or if the run is stronger than in years past. Only time will tell. Right now my catch is more than 300% up over this same time last year. But, not everything is rosy—the sun has shown just once in the last 4 weeks. Everyone took photos to mark the occasion and for posterity. A low ceiling of grey clouds has blanketed this area all summer. The major changes in weather have been limited to the following: cloudy then fog followed by rain then cloudy again; cloudy with 25-30 mph wind, small-craft advisory, cloudy; cloudy, 44 deg F., feels like 34 deg F, cloudy; etc, etc. However, glass-half-full folks that we are, I must say, there are none of the state’s infamous mosquitoes about and I am eternally thankful for that fact alone.

    An Irish lord caught in the net. We took some photos and released him unharmed. What an odd fish.

    The day before yesterday the wind started to blow. It built from the south then swung around to the west and built to 25 mph, gusting to 32. Fishing was not open that day so we put our raingear on and did some work on the sauna. We used some of the large fir beams salvaged from the old cannery down the beach. This wood is straight grain with no knots and has an amazing smell. One could not buy this type of wood for any price anywhere and here it is, free at the edge of the world having been barged in almost 100 years ago from the Northwest. Last year I harvested some large beams (one that is 10”X6” and 18 ft long) and other wood and this year we added to that collection. My father and I notched some of the larger beams together timber frame-style for the foundation (up on 4 foot piers), and 2”X6” floor joists will be nailed on top, followed by plywood then walls and a roof. We have been “showering” in a plywood shack held together with line for the last month and the charm of this rustic structure is rapidly wearing off.

    Yesterday the wind was still up from the west, which blew in lots of fish, but also kicked up the waves. Fish and Game opened fishing from 8am to 6pm but when we got up in the morning it looked really bad out there. Brown waves topped with white foam slammed the beach and our boats bucked at their moorings. We didn’t want to go out there, but fishing was opening in 1/2 hour and I knew the fish were in. So we ragged up and headed out, and were immediately pounded by the spray. In rough seas, even doing simple things like tying or untying a boat become very difficult or even dangerous. Fishing is not inherently dangerous, what makes it dangerous is rough weather and lack of sleep. Those things do not always happen at the same time, but when they do, accidents are never far off. We struggled with setting the net then struggled to work the net and to pick the fish from it. Just keeping your balance in the boat while you work is exhausting.

    As the weather got worse the fishing got better, which kept us there and kept us happy. The tide turned at noon so I planned on pulling the net before then to avoid the dangerous conditions that can form when the wind opposes the current (our current can move at 6 knots here). More or less on schedule, we pulled the net after catching several hundred red salmon. Overall, a good day’s fishing. That evening I could not sit still in my seat, I was swaying this way and that like I was still on the boat, almost making myself feel seasick on land.

    July 1st, 2011 | Traveler | No Comments |

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Traveler Terpening

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