Monday, October 27, 2014

Blast from the past

Its that time of year again where the aches and pains from fishing have finally vanished and nostalgia for the season starts to set in.  Ah, selective memory....a fishermen's best friend.  In my mood of reverie for fishing, I scrapped up an old article I wrote for The Cordova Times, (Prince William Sounds oldest newspaper, established in 1914),  a few years ago and wanted to share it with you.  Apologies if the format is a little funky, its taken right from the paper.  Added bonus is a salmon recipe at the end!  I hope you enjoy.


Custom Built

originally from the Czech republic, Vince Beran has been fishing in Prince William Sound since 1978.

Scuttlebutt and boats 
of the harbor

JEN PICKETT / For The Cordova Times
The Cordova Times | Friday, June 15, 2012 |
F/V Pasak, original and one of a kind
By Jen Pickett 

For The Cordova Times 
Vince Beran doesn’t like to brag, “Its really nothing special, you have to just keep fixing it.”
In most cases, saying something is original and one of a kind is a bit redundant, but not in this case. The Pasak, Vince’s gillnetter is original and one of a kind. 

Originally from Czech Republic, Beran fished for 2 years in Puget Sound before bringing his boat up here and fishing the Copper River in 1978. He fell in love with the fishing exclaiming “It’s an easy live right, you give them fish, they give you money, right?” 

His boat, the Pasak is a 28’ bowpicker built by Vince in 1975. He bought a Uniflight hull then took it from there. He did the deck and cabin himself. He installed a Chevy 454 engine, Mercruiser Outboard Outdrive, and made a stainless steel reel stands. And all three are still the original today. But that’s not all. 

Beran made pretty much everything else, his entire interior of the boat, from the helm station, to his bunk to his oil stove. Yup, made the oil stove out of stainless steel, complete with two carburetors, two separate air intakes (one for when he is running) and a fan to circulate the heat. Most guys buy pre-fabricated boat furniture but not Vince. He even made a crafty little table that folds up out of the way when not in use, a cook station, his bunk, and shelves. He made a shock absorbing helm’s chair out of stainless steel and a big spring.

Pretty much everything onboard the Pasak was built by it’s captain, Vince Beran from fabricating steel parts to it’s custom interior.


I don’t know how many hours I have on the engine,” said Pasak. “You don’t ask me how many hours. I don’t dare to think. I can tell you how many years. Thirty-seven.” 
That’s right, his 37-year-old engine are still buddies with his 37 year old outdrive and 37-year-old reel. 

“For the engine, I try to get the premium parts, especially for the amount of work you spend on it, it pays to get quality.”
But that is not all, he has fabricated a stainless steel heat exchanger, exhaust manifolds, additional air filters and countless gadgets in addition to wiring. And he isn’t afraid to experiment with things like dry exhaust. He figured cars
have it, why not boats? “Dry exhaust, improves it (engine performance) makes it even better but nobody told me the vapor get so hot, you can’t imagine how hot vapor gets from a gas engine.” 
Turns out, the reason boats don’t have dry exhaust is because they don’t go fast enough for the air to cool the engine. You have to give him kudos for trying. But he didn’t let that set back of nearly catching the whole boat and himself on fire stop him, he simply plugged the holes in the stern from the failed experiment with those infamous Wilson tennis balls and moved on. When I asked him if he’s had to replace those he answered, laughing, “not yet, not yet.” I should have known those were still the original ones. 
“I have 1975 outdrive but you do not let mechanic fiddle with it. You set the gears correct, how they are designed. You have to be patient when set the bearings, its really not difficult you just have to be patient.”
Vince took the time to call the manufacturers of the bearings and got the correct spacing for each bearing for his outdrive. 

“You change the oil, maybe take out a seal here or there, and it works. You put oil on everything and zincs on everything,” advises Vince. “And try to make everything easy to repair.” 

Out on deck, he made his reel stand out of, you guessed it, stainless steel. “That’s the original chain from 1975, I put a big chain and large gear and it lasts.” But that’s not all. He fabricated an additional fuel tank one the bow that also aids in dealing with sharks when they get caught up. He mounted a pulley system that is driven by a mini winch mounted on the cabin. He can haul the shark aboard, cut it out of the net, then, the front of the fuel tank, which is angled, acts as a ramp and he can set the net back out, discarding the shark. How many gillnetters can say they can be self- sufficient when it comes to dealing with sharks? I know I wasn’t.
I haven’t even gotten to his truck yet. It’s a 1963 International pick-up truck that he has driven up the ALCAN every year from Washington State for the past 37 years!

“The truck is a masterpiece, I had it since ‘78. I used to tow the boat back and forth, I was dumb, ya know? It has about 700,000 miles on it. Rebuilt only once. The seal of the camshaft went out but the engine by itself never wear out.”
Vince’s equipment has outlasted his fishing career. He sold out last year but the boat, is still for sale. He admits it isn’t beautiful but I think it’s a work of art, for the right person. 

“You have to have personality that likes to fix things,” says Vince Beran, That and “you need constant protection from heaven, nobody is that good.” 

Jen Pickett is a freelance writer and fisherman in Cordova, alaska who also blogs about her fishing adventures at: she can be reached at 


alaska salmon Ciabatta sandwiches
PreP Time: 10 min Cook Time: 15 min Serves: 4
  • 1/2 cup low-fat mayonnaise
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
  • 4 ciabatta or hard sandwich rolls
  • 4 Alaska Salmon fillets (4 to 6 oz.
    each), fresh, thawed or frozen
  • 1 Tablespoon olive, canola, peanut
    or grapeseed oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup chopped green onions
  • 4 leaves butter or curly leaf lettuce
  1. In small bowl, blend mayonnaise, lime juice, and celery salt; set aside. Slice sandwich rolls in half; toast or grill and keep warm.
  2. Rinse any ice glaze from frozen Alaska Salmon under cold water; pat dry with paper towel. Heat a heavy nonstick skillet over medium- high heat. Brush both sides of salmon with oil. Place salmon in heated skillet and cook, uncovered, about 3 to 4 minutes, until browned. Shake pan occasionally to keep fish from sticking.
  3. Turn salmon over and season with salt and pepper. Add green onions to bottom of pan. Cover pan tightly and reduce heat to medium. Cook an additional 6 to 8 minutes for frozen salmon OR 3 to 4 minutes for fresh/thawed fish. Cook just until fish is opaque throughout.
  4. Blend cooked onions into mayonnaise mixture; thinly spread mayonnaise onto each cut side of roll. To serve, place a salmon fillet onto each roll bottom. Top salmon with dollop of mayonnaise; add a lettuce leaf and roll top.
Nutrients per serving: 521 calories, 23g total fat, 5g saturated fat, 40% calories from fat, 115mg cholesterol, 37g protein, 41g carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 846mg sodium, 115mg calcium and 1000mg omega-3 fatty acids.
Courtesy: Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute

Get with the times. The Cordova Times.

No comments: