Three Bites Left


Why the long faces? We’re down to the very last of our most recent batch of delicious salmon caviar. An entire quart of eggs gone in less than two weeks! But boy, was it good while it lasted. I love salmon and all the different ways we prepare it, but I’m really starting to think that ikura is my favorite. Even more than crisp, melt-in-your-mouth salt-broiled shioyaki steaks? Or savory, fat-dripping hot-smoked belly strips? Or Smarty’s awesome cold-smoked lox? Or salmon-salad sandwiches on whole-wheat sourdough garlic-Parmesan toast? Hmmmm…I don’t know. But it’s close.

Thankfully, we still have a few more weeks of primetime salmon season left. The kings are pretty much done, but silvers have yet to peak in the Sound and coastal bays. Time to get after it!


Instant Karma?


Do the Fish Gods really pay attention to the actions of us mortals? Or was this just a random sequence of events? I understand that karma, in the Buddhist faith, is a much longer-term proposition. But I wasn’t really sure what else to call this.

We had spent a long morning on the water without a bite or any signs of life. Finally, early in the afternoon, I found the bait and immediately had a good fish on. I lost it, but optimism took a sudden rise. Now we were on ’em. Time to put some fish in the boat. Yes!

Then I heard a whistle and some distant shouting. I looked up, and there was only one other boat in the area and it was sitting dead in the water. Two people were standing in it, waving their arms in the universal distress signal. My immediate thought was to pretend like I didn’t hear anything, keep fishing, and capitalize on the fish we’d just found. But with the weather deteriorating, a small, powerless boat could get into serious trouble. So I grudgingly pulled up the fishing gear and ran over to the other boat. They had their downrigger cable wrapped around the prop, which I then spent a good long time trying to untangle. The wind came up and and it was soon impossible to work on one boat while leaning over the rail of another. As the two boats conspired to separate, fingers were smashed, tendons stretched and forehead veins bulged. I believe a fair amount of choice language left my mouth. Finally, it became clear I was going to have to tow them in. With the rising chop, we managed about 3 miles per hour. More choice words.

When they were finally safely at the dock, I ran back out to where the fish had been, and of course, they were gone. But at least it was raining. Time to call it a day and head home with tail between legs.

On the way in, I thought we might as well try a little local spot that hadn’t produced yet this year. But we’ve done well there in the past, and you know, what the hell. If there’s a level of expectation that’s microscopically above zero, that’s what I was feeling in the midst of my dark mood and lousy weather.

And somehow, my earlier “good deed” paid off. In the next two hours, the clouds parted, the wind fell out, we hooked nine kings, limited the boat and released several others. Random luck? Cosmic payback? Karma? If it was the Fish Gods, thankfully, they only saw my actions, and didn’t hear what I was saying or thinking while rendering assistance to my fellow boaters. Whatever the cause of this good fortune, I’ll take it. When I had to clean fish and wash the boat by headlamp in a steady rain, I didn’t mind a bit.

So remember this lesson:  If you’re out on the water and see a boat in distress, you have to do everything you can to help. It might get you into a bunch of fish, and more importantly, someday, it might be me.



King Time Now

Sunday dawned cool and breezy, which I knew would translate to freezing and windy on the water. But the kids and I have been so busy with farm, camps, work, etc we hadn’t fished in a while. And we had planned to fish Sunday. So we went anyway. I had good reports from up north, but when we turned the corner it was blowing too hard to make the run. Tried to go south, same thing.

So we put gear in the water at our little local spot and pounded it. To no avail. The good tide came and went. The only saving grace was phone reports from the places we wanted to fish, all saying it was rough and fishing was slow.

Around lunchtime, we were tired of the pounding (and lack of fish) in our semi-protected spot, so we ran to an area in the lee of the Island. Hadn’t heard of a single fish from there yet this summer. But we just wanted to find a place where we could relax a little and eat our sandwiches in peace. As soon as we were fishing and the kids brought out lunch, the famous “sandwich bite effect” came into play: Fish ON! The only bite of the day, but just as we netted our fish, the sun broke through, and we came home feeling lucky.