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Harder than it looks

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Harder than it looks

Postby Monterey » Mon Aug 01, 2011 11:35 am

Just getting started in this business (and into fishing in general). Its tougher than it looks.

I have been out 5 times (by the Soquel hole in Monterey, CA), and have caught 6 small ones (total) that I had to return. In this last trip I caught one 27 1/8 salmon and I was so happy! my first landing I thought (over here the minimum length is 27 inches). The problem is I cant tell when a fish bites. There is no shaking, no bells ringing, nothing. I get bloody hooks, one fish that was already half dead from how long it had been hooked, fishes with damage in the mouth, but I dont know until I get bored and pull the line in. Maybe its because they are all small. I cant tell. Same with this one.

Right after bringing it in into the boat, the boat started going in circles, so I threw the fish on ice and investigated. In retrospect I was lucky it happened then. My last two trips I have made too tight of a turn and have tangled my port and starboard lines snapping the steel lines, lost a weight and gear the one time and I thought I lost another weight the second, but it got wrapped around the other weight. It was difficult bringing them in. Needless to say now I have only two lines in good shape so when this happened I only had one line left on the water. I am thankful for small favors.

I thought I lost my freeman auto pilot, but I had lost rudder control instead. The rod controlling the rudder had snapped. Reaching down to the rusted piece left by the rudder worm gear I twisted it by hand to steer for about an hour until I got close enough to shore for the waves to calm down (I was 6 miles out). Pulled my poles in but was sideways to the waves and one of the poles crashed on the tree and broke the cross member. I then tried to fix the rudder by putting a piece of hose as coupler, but it was too soft, I barely had enought control to make it to the harbor and a side dock. I fixed it there some more, enough to have enough control to bring it in to the slip. Ah, made it! I thought, all this trouble is no matter since I will have my first landing.

I got the fish out of the box but it had kind of frozen in an S-shape and now was less than 27 inches. Argh! I tried to straighten it out.. not much luck. Ok, I had to gut it anyway, maybe that will straighten it out. I start gutting it on the slip and my neighboor looks in and says I should be more circumspect, I could get into trouble. I say why? (I thought he was talking about how small my fish was) He said he thought it was a silver. Huh? I said. He said, you know.. a coho? I have him blank look. He got closer and said, look here in the lower jaw you see this little bit of white? you can't keep that, you better take it home or you'll be in trouble.

Well, there we go. I have now a fish waiting to be barbecued, I have donwloaded some salmon identification charts (not very explicit, they show a whole white lower jaw, mine was white just at the hinge of the mouth) and I am shopping for 1" rod, couplers, trying to figure how I am going to reach the top of the mast, going broke, and writing on my log: still no fish landed.
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Joined: Mon Dec 01, 2008 10:57 am
Location: Sausalito, CA

Re: Harder than it looks

Postby Abundance » Mon Aug 08, 2011 3:19 pm

All of us started out somewhere, and can usually list off an embarrassingly long list of things that went wrong. I remember my first time salmon trolling, my boat broke down before I even got a mile from the dock. I also barely made enough to cover my permit lease, which was not much at all. And that was with ten years of experience as a deckhand on a troller beforehand! It is indeed harder than it looks. But, as is often said nowadays, it gets better. Some things always stay the same though. Your steering issues give me the chills, since I've had that happen to me more times than should ever reasonably happen. I remember one time in mid-March, there was a big bite of kings off of Veta Bay. I charged out there, fifteen foot seas combing over my bow, and suddenly the boat started turning straight for Gaviota Rocks. I managed to turn the rudder by hand and get out of there just before it was too late. I was too shook up to even go fishing for a while afterwords. And as to catching fish, I know one beginner a while back who fished for his first five months without one keeper, all shakers. And then in the beginning of his sixth month, he caught one or two. Then began doing whatever it was that caught them, and began to catch more. Now he's looking for a bigger boat to hold his fish. It could happen to you.
I know that this is stretching my post a little bit long, but on another topic, you can't keep cohos in California?! Its hard to imagine. That's the lifeblood of summertime trolling in Alaska. While probably not appropriate for the Stories section, I am curious as to the rules and seasons and general differences between regions. I guess a hint of why cohos aren't legal there is that you only caught one. Up here, the average day of cohos is 80-120 a day. I wonder though, what is considered average fishing is in B.C., Washington, Oregon? Do they fish deep or fish shallow? i guess i could find out somewhere else on the net, but I would like to hear it from the source. Maybe I'll start something in Troller Talk.
Garrett Hagen, F/V Abundance
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Location: Craig

Re: Harder than it looks

Postby RoverCranker » Thu Mar 01, 2012 8:46 pm

I have to admit after reading these, I don't feel quite so embarrassed. I was 18 on the first shakedown trip of my handtroller. Hadn't a clue what I was doing. I had painted my fish and game numbers wrong on my boat, and tied all my flashers on backwards. I gaffed my hand on the first fish I ever caught, and at the end of the day I carried 2 coho to the buyer. I suppose things could've gone much worse.
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Joined: Sat Sep 24, 2011 7:43 am
Location: SE Alaska

Re: Harder than it looks

Postby gumpucky » Fri Mar 02, 2012 10:21 am

Went out of Sitka every day for 30 days til I got my first king. It was winter and I didn't have any desire to go out to the winter line being this green and the boat being so small and old. I scratched around the rocks inside and even put my boat up on a rock by the road system for a rare photo op for the whole town to capture the moment. Sat up on that rock for better than 30 hrs. til the water came up far enough for my wheel to gouge enough water and with the aid of a passing boat to pull me off. Made the P bar wall of shame right out of the chute in my fishing career. The picture can be seen above the pay phone on your way into the head .That is if the pay phone is still there, been awhile since I've been in there. So on the 30th day when the gear started shaking I was automatically resigned to loosing more lead and started for the throttle to try and save it when it dawned on me that it wasn't the bottom. That beauty was over 20 lbs. and I kissed it on the snout after I got it aboard. Your supposed to eat your first fish but I broke with tradition as I was broke and living off the girlfriends paycheck. A few days later out around Vitskarie I landed 14 fish that afternoon one white over 30 lbs. The girlfriend worked across the street managing the Texaco,petro now, across from where I kept the boat and saw me crossing the street after I'd tied up. She told me I was positively beaming and levitating when she saw me and knew I'd finally had a good day. Just the first of many stories one can accumulate if your lucky enough to have what it takes to do this.
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Re: Harder than it looks

Postby salmon4u » Fri Mar 02, 2012 7:47 pm

Thanks for the good chuckles! Some times everything really goes to sh*t. One of my first trips I went way out to an area known to have good king fishing.. you had to fish really deep though. I put out all six lines 70F deep, trolled up to an edge when my poles started shaking like crazy.... well, I had hit a good school of kings alright, but my inside deeps had tangled with my tip deeps. I spent hours drifting from sunset till long into the night untangling. but... I had 28 nice kings on the lines!!! ha.. wire and gear and fish everywhere on the deck! oh, yeah, and drifting out in 30kt winds.. sure was happy to finally catch some fish though
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