The Copper River Salmon Fishery 2010 has finally come to an end. It finished up a few weeks ago. After our grueling 60 hour openers, we finally got a break. There is usually a break between the end of the reds run and silvers showing up and this year was no different. I had time to catch up on life things and mend nets. Then silver season hit full swing. Though it wasn't as grand as we had hoped. I kept hearing rumors that there was a flood during the parent year of this run and it washed out many of the eggs. Silvers was pretty good if you went to the east end of the Flats. We did OK. We stayed on the west side but managed to scratch a season out of it. And, the weather was nice. Nicest silver season ever, I reckoned. Cordova even set a record for the most sunny days in a row. 15! Beat the previous record by 1 day. (In case the reader is curious, it is not currently sunny in Cordova right now. Matter of fact, its a down right snot storm. 48F, blowing about 25K gusting 35K and of course, rain. It's the kind of day where it will rain in your ear. The marine forecast = East 50 and 32' seas.)
The season is over but the memory of the season is still lingering. I want to share some of the highlights that I jotted down. Most of the following are either bits of conversation from the boat or what we heard on the radio or the docks. Enjoy!
Skipper: "Hey, there is your buddy, corking us. I want you to curse at her and I mean curse. And I get to choose your words."
"I wonder if its too late to get a seine job?" One gill net skipper to another, referring to the epic pink run in Prince William Sound.
After we take off and start running east. Then we do a 180 and head west. I ask Skipper "What's up?" "My plotter's tellin' me I'm going the wrong way."
"Skipper, you used to crab. What was it like?" Skipper: "... just set me down in a chair and beat me with a club."
Native elder to Skipper years ago. Skipper: "Do you have a tide book?" Native elder: "Tide book? Tide comes in, tide goes out. You don't need no book to tell you that."
"Yeah, he sounds like a pro but has a rookie hair cut."
"We only have 55 fish, but at least I don't have a pipe pole sticking out of my head." Skipper after I accidentally hit him in the head with the pipe pole about 5 times before I realized what was happening.
"Well, looky there. It's almost working."
"What about that fish? You gonna call that a humpy?"
Fisherman who just returned fishing 64 and 80 hour openers in Prince William Sound: "I had to stick my whole head in the pencil sharpener. I had hair and whiskers out to here. My girlfriend came up to me and asked "is that you?"
Same fisherman referring to getting jelly fish in the eye: "The dull pain of soap in the eyes is refreshing compared to the searing ice pick pain of jellies."
"The same could be said about all of us, but he's worse."
"Don't tell him what we caught, I don't want to make him feel bad."
"What's he doing runnin' from the fish? Well, good luck. Hope you get some."
"Look at this f#@kin' net. I can't even believe it." Referring to crazy top current that kept collapsing the net despite our best towing efforts.
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) when asked what being on a boat was like: "It's like prison, with a chance of drowning."
"It was the damndest thing I've ever seen. And this is a true story........."
"It's lookin' pretty dead. I hope they're hittin' deep. They like to tickle their backs as they go under."
"Them coke years was a mother-f*#ker. Ain't nobody can survive that shit..........again."
"He went dry, dumb son of a bitch."
"We ain't got no water. The only pace we could go dry, we did."
"Don't ever ask if it can get worse. The answer is always yes."
"When fishin' you hit that stage of exhaustion that you can't imagine, unless you've been there."
"Me? I hide my weed in my Froot Loops."
"And we didn't even have to call for help.........like a baby."
"We're gonna f*$k him. He's been there long enough."
"I gotta get the combine out I got so much grass in my net." "Yeah,.... There's so much of it, it looks like a freakin' blanket. Ain't no way I could go outside."
"I was broke down. No heat. No way to cook. I ate canned salmon and cold corn. It sucked."
"Cut him some slack. He went swimmin' in the Bering Sea in the winter. In his underwear."