A reader recently asked me that if the weather is always bad and if I’m always miserable and in peril, why do I fish? Well, good question. For starters, I’m not always in peril. But, who wants to read about the boring moments?
Truth is fishing is often tedious and boring. Mind numbing boredom. You set your net and watch it fish. 900 feet of cork line bobbing lacklusterly in the ocean. Hours and hours of sheer boredom, only punctuated occasionally with moments of sheer terror.
If everything goes right and the weather is more less decent, things are boring. This though, is a good thing. You can just drift around, feeling mother ocean slowly rock you back and forth into a soft lullaby with each swell. You witness the most amazing skies: sunsets, sunrises, moonrises, shooting stars, Northern lights, all while smelling the crisp salty ocean air. Marine mammals play in the surf. Otters float around the net with their little paws sticking out of the water, as if waving “hello”. Birds follow the corks, thinking they are part of the flock. Arctic turns dive for little fishes. Seagulls squawk. Puffins accent the sky with their little orange beaks. Whales spout in the distance making impromptu “Old Faithful”. Porpoise play in the waves. Fish jump. Seals smile at you with their eyes. Sea lions nibble. It’s a wildlife viewing extravaganza.
You can feel the warm sun on your face as you sit, lazily, in the skipper’s seat, feet propped up, watching your net. The sun’s heat accentuated as it comes in through the window combined with the heat of the diesel stove. Water rhythmically lapping against the hull. You daydream about all the things you’ll do with the money you are making. Vacations, new truck, new nets, that upgrade on your boat. Splash! You see another fish hit the net. One more 20 dollar bill slipped into your pocket. Strike-O! Fish clatter. Another 100 bucks. And you haven’t even finished your first cup of coffee!! Isn’t this just a dream come true?
Here you are, on your very own commercial fishing boat, in Alaska. Your own business. You you’re your boat whatever you want, paint it the color you want. In some cases, design and build it however you want.
Your boat is not just a way to make money, but your own little home away from home. You cook on your boat, sleep on your boat, change your clothes on your boat, feed yourself from your boat. Make a living from your boat. It keeps you safe and warm, protects you from the elements and makes you money.
You are your own boss, make your own hours, fish where you want, when you want, and how you want. You call the shots. Answer to no one. You work your ass off half the year and can take the rest of the time off, if you wish. You take pride in your profession. You are an Alaskan Fisherman. The world is your oyster.
And that is why I fish.