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Salmon Fishing on Puget Sound

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As I reported yesterday, Bill and Alex went off on a salmon fishing trip, and Bill called to tell me that Alex had caught the first fish, a 13 lb salmon, but it had to be released because you can’t keep the wild ones.  They also almost had one around 9 lbs, but it got off right near the boat.

Ah well, that’s fishing.

And I’ll cut to the chase now – they didn’t bring home a salmon dinner.  The only salmon caught were wild, which have to be released as fast as possible, by law. 

But – it was still a great trip.

Bill and Alex, and two other men – avid fishermen out in Seattle at a business convention, one from Minnesota and one from Louisiana – set out with Captain Dave Morgison of Possession Point Fishing Charters around five o’clock from the Port of Everett Marina, located in Everett, which is north of Seattle.  The sky was foggy, and remained so for most of the trip.

About an hour later, they started fishing.  They dropped lines down about a hundred and fifty feet.  There were 3 rods, so the deal was that three people would fish for 20 minutes, and then rotate positions, so everyone would have about an hour of fishing and then a twenty minute break.  For Bill and Alex, this was good, because if Alex was fishing and Bill was on break, he would still be a part of things if Alex got a bite.

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Alex, as I mentioned before, reeled in the first salmon – a 13 pound Chinook.  Now, I thought that was cool all by itself, but even nicer was the fact that the other two men on the trip – total strangers – wanted Alex to get the first fish.  Sometimes I really love people.  Anyway, Bill helped hold the rod and Alex reeled in the fish.

Unfortunately, as I also already mentioned, it was a wild salmon, and apparently the law is that you can only keep the farm raised, which are easy to spot because one of their dorsal fins is snipped off.

I’m incredibly proud because the deal is, if it’s a wild salmon, the captain has to net the fish, remove the hook, and release the fish back into the water as quickly as possible, so there’s no opportunity for a proud fisherman shot with anyone holding the salmon.  My son – this is the part I’m proud about – had the presence of mind and steadiness of hands – to take three pictures of the salmon in the net as the captain unhooked it.  I’ve trained him well. 

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I asked Alex about his experience catching the salmon…

“Well, it felt like I was reeling in our anchor, and I’m really glad that we didn’t lose that one.”

Did Daddy help you?

“Nope, I pretty much saw the pole moving but somebody else, like the captain, maybe, or Dad, just picked up the pole and I started reeling in the fish.  Daddy held like the bottom of it (the pole)…The captain said it wasn’t a keeper because it has a small little fin and that means it’s a wild fish, and we don’t want wild fish.  Um…Mom, could you please stop writing down “um” whenever I say it?…The captain netted the fish and then he had to take it out of the net and throw it back.”

There was one other salmon that made it into the boat, caught by one of the other two men, and several dogfish.  Alex got a couple of pictures of one of the dogfish as well. 

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More words from Alex…

“First of all, I didn’t reel this fish in.  Because of my father.  We didn’t know that this fish – or shark – was hooked.  So dad just reeled it in, and found out that this shark was on it.  So, well, I don’t remember, but Dad gave the captain the pole, and the captain reeled it in, and found out it was a dogfish, but I call it a dogshark.  This shark had, like, white spots on it, from its very top fin all the way down to the bottom fin.  And we also caught some huge ones.  This one was a small one (about 20 inches per Bill).  It was a shark, so we had to throw it back.  Now, that’s it.”

And, to round out all the excitement, at least for Alex, they saw harbor seals.  Lots and lots of harbor seals.  Apparently the seals know what all these people in the boats are up to, so they follow along, looking for an easy meal.  There’s one in the picture below.

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Hard to see, I know, but it was foggy.

Here’s Alex again:

“Even thought this seal looks far away, it was still one of the closest seals to the boat.  We’re glad the seal wasn’t near, once we were reeling in a fish, including mine, because the seal would chomp it.  But if the fish was a wild fish, like a wild salmon, then the seal would probably chomp off its tail part, and then we would have reeled in the rest of the fish, and the fish would be a keeper, because the small fin was supposed to be gone (for farm-raised, keeper salmon), and that fin is closest to the tail, so then we’d only have like around the body parts and the head.  Julia would be happy (because we’d have the eyes).  That’s it.”

Anyway, Bill called me at around quarter to twelve to say they’d be back at the marina in about an hour, so Nina, Julia and I, who had been doing our own thing that morning and were currently walking along the beach near the ferry landing in Mukilteo when we got the call, so we meandered back to the car and headed off.

I asked Bill to get a picture of Alex on the boat, so he (Alex) would have something to remember the trip by.  At the time, neither one of us realized Alex had taken as many pictures as he did.  Not a ton, but enough.

We arrived at the Port of Everett Marina a little less than an hour later, so we walked around, looking out at the water and scrutinizing the incoming boats to see if one of them might be carrying family.

And, after a brief wait, we saw them.

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I recognized Bill’s tall, thin profile, the gray sweatshirt he had borrowed before leaving in the morning, and the whiteness of Alex’s hat.

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I called Bill’s cell phone, and kept the camera on the boat, hoping to get a shot of them waving at me or something, but the motor was so loud Bill never heard the phone.  Ah well. 

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We watched them pull into the entrance of the marina, and then we basically race-walked along the upper dock, waiting for the boat to turn somewhere.  Finally, way the heck down the other end, it did.

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There are locked gates that prevent outside access to the docks unless you’ve got a key, so we waited up above while the guys gathered up their stuff. 

They were taking a while, and I was figuring they were still talking, still cheering each other up about not bringing home any keepers, but then Nina pointed out that there was a seal in the water near the boat.  That’s what they were watching.

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And sure enough, there was.  Here’s a closer look.

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He dove down below the surface and disappeared right after I took that picture, so Bill and Alex and the other two men finished gathering up their stuff and saying their goodbyes and thankyous to the captain.

Julia hollered down to get Bill’s attention.

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And as the boat pulled away (the captain said he needed to refuel), the seal reappeared, so everyone stopped again to watch it.

Alex kept his eye on the seal and asked for his camera.   IMG_4521 IMG_4522 IMG_4523

But the seal dove down under again and Alex didn’t get a picture.  Oh well.

Weary, fishless, but content, my fishermen trekked up the ramp, and we all headed home.

~~~

As I was typing the above, Alex came into the room and wanted to know what I was doing.  I told him, and he asked if he could help.  So I asked Alex to say a few words about the fishing trip…

“Um…”(he laughed as I type “um”)

I asked him what was his favorite part of the fishing trip, and he replied:

“Seeing a whole bunch of seals, and catching a thirteen pound fish.  Oh – and seeing a giant reddish jellyfish.  And…catching my first shark.  That’s it.”

(Since Alex was so helpful, I went back and added his commentary to some of the other sections above.)

Thanks, Alex!

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