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Author Topic: Commercial Fishing  (Read 73722 times)

Offline Boss .300 winmag

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Re: Commercial Fishing
« Reply #90 on: January 24, 2017, 07:55:44 PM »
I believe he has a female deck hand from a previous post??

The photo taker, as long as the head has a door, why any problems.  :dunno:
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Offline quadrafire

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Re: Commercial Fishing
« Reply #91 on: January 24, 2017, 07:57:55 PM »
Ok Boss carry on. Just questions I had for skillet that is up there.  :tup:

Offline NRA4LIFE

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Re: Commercial Fishing
« Reply #92 on: January 24, 2017, 08:16:10 PM »
She sounds like one of the deck hands on a charter we were on a number of years ago out of Westport.  Her name was Ingrid.  She was a bada$$ fishing machine.
Look man, some times you just gotta roll the dice

Offline Skillet

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Re: Commercial Fishing
« Reply #93 on: January 24, 2017, 08:56:26 PM »
Ah, regarding the ol' "girls and boys in tight quarters" deal. 

My galley wench (self-described) is very laid back, not squeamish at all.  We do have to make sure we're effectively communicating at times to ensure we aren't encroaching on each other's privacy, but the bar for expectations of privacy on a commercial boat is VERY low.  And the women who go out on boats to work understand that.  My fo'c'sle is not heated, so I take that and she gets the day bunk inn the cabin.  She knows I'm the first up every morning to fire the engine, start coffee, etc., so she needs to deal with me being in her "bedroom" while I'm getting our day going.  I expect she's up and ready to man the helm when I go out to haul the anchor. She wears long John's or something, not a big deal and nothing titillating about it.  I treat her like any other respected crew member - high expectations for performance and am never let down.  She's a good hand that enjoy the commercial experience while she's between contracts utilizing her master's in biology.
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Offline Skillet

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Re: Commercial Fishing
« Reply #94 on: January 24, 2017, 09:02:19 PM »
Nice addition about the tenders!
I haven't seen Amber in years.  I have good memories of her Dad.  Steve 'Hans' Hansen.  We used to moor near each other in Lake Union.

I'd love to hear some tendering stories if you got them, or feel free to correct me on anything I got wrong on the tender deal.  I've only tender fished this this year, so the different tenders may do things significantly differently.
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Online WAcoueshunter

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Re: Commercial Fishing
« Reply #95 on: January 24, 2017, 09:16:05 PM »
A couple questions on the tenders from someone who has never been. 

First, what/how do they charge for their services?  Obviously a cost for what they do, just curious how you weigh that against convenience and more time on the grounds.

Second, do you need to sign up/pledge/promise to a tender to make sure there's a slot for you when things get really busy?  Or do the just control demand by raising prices or some other means?

Just curious how it works.  Thanks for the awesome thread!   :tup:

Offline RB

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Re: Commercial Fishing
« Reply #96 on: January 24, 2017, 09:40:22 PM »
Great pic RB!  I don't recall seeing her around, doesn't mean she's not still working however.  I have mad respect for the low ADFG number boats like your granddads - they are icons in the fleet.


Indeed sir, my granddad was on the board of the SPC and instrumental in it's creation. There is a book written about him called, Troll King, Glimpses of a Unique Southeast Alaska Lifestyle. It was written by John Sabella, he spent a summer trolling with my granddad. Always heard great stories of the fleet when I was a kid and was impressed how well they took care of each other. Always remember views like this the one time I was able to fish with him. Keep it coming love hearing theses stories brings back great memories.  :tup:
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Offline Skillet

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Re: Commercial Fishing
« Reply #97 on: January 24, 2017, 10:00:52 PM »
A couple questions on the tenders from someone who has never been. 

First, what/how do they charge for their services?  Obviously a cost for what they do, just curious how you weigh that against convenience and more time on the grounds.

Second, do you need to sign up/pledge/promise to a tender to make sure there's a slot for you when things get really busy?  Or do the just control demand by raising prices or some other means?

Just curious how it works.  Thanks for the awesome thread!   :tup:

Great questions. There are a couple of kinds of tenders - contract tenders that work solely for a single processor and cash buyers. 

As far as contract tenders, think of them as dedicated haulers.  Every tender I've sold to is connected with one processor or another.  They are typically part of a small fleet a processor contracts with to cover the grounds and get as many fish to the plant as possible.  The price we get is usually the same as the price at the processor in town - the processor just rolls that contract expense into the calculus that determines their pricing model.  That said, they don't like processors going out and coming back four days later with a relatively short load, so there is a bit of competition between all of the contract tenders for our fish.

Cash buyers are independent scows that travel around and buy fish for less in the hopes they can get a good price for the fish when they haul a big load to town.  They will shop the load between the processors for the best price.  It is my impression the days of the independent cash buyers are numbered. There was one working Cross Sound area this year, but I never sold to them.

There is significant loyalty to each processor, with the understanding we are allowed to sell to whomever we need to.  Im an SPC guy, but that is because it is a co-op that I bought into.  I have a vested interest in making it work out - but I sold to the competition at times if I needed to. Let's say Amber was at the end of her tendering trip - 4-ish days, and no SPC tender was there in Lisianski that day to take my fish.  I'm not waiting 30 hours for her to come back, and I'm not running the 10 hours to town to pitch off - so the competitor's tender gets my fish.  I need to get them off and get back out there with fresh ice.  There is no pause button on these salmon runs - you must go fishing if at all possible to generate the revenue to justify your operation.
You must be an SPC member to deliver to an SPC tender, but I can deliver to just about anybody. It's a nice hedge when there is a sudden smash of coho and tender appts are tough to get.  We do try to time deliveries so that we have an SPC tender to sell to.  Sometimes I'll deliver a short 3 day trip to beat the big rush at the 5-day mark after the bite started.  But you might spend good fishing time tied up to a tender, and the big bite is over when you get back out there. It's a gamble. 

All of fishing is a gamble. One of the reasons why I love it so much.  You have to play your hand in such a way as to get the greatest advantage on your only real opponent - time.

I hope this answered your question Wacoushunter?
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Offline Skillet

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Re: Commercial Fishing
« Reply #98 on: January 24, 2017, 10:08:05 PM »
Nice addition about the tenders!
I haven't seen Amber in years.  I have good memories of her Dad.  Steve 'Hans' Hansen.  We used to moor near each other in Lake Union.

Never met Steve, but have heard stories  :chuckle:

He runs the Amber Anne now, turned the Deere Harbor II over to his 20-something daughter.  And she is killing it!
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Offline Sitka_Blacktail

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Re: Commercial Fishing
« Reply #99 on: January 25, 2017, 01:06:53 AM »
I also fish salmon in Alaska, off the Copper River Delta and in Prince William Sound starting with my dad when I was 14 and running my own boat from 16 on. But instead of trolling, I gillnet. I leave Washington and drive to Alaska each spring in mid April to participate in oil spill response drills at the end of the month. This also serves as a shakedown cruise for my boat to make sure everything is operating good for the upcoming season. When the drill is over, (three days of training) I pull my nets out and mend any that didn't get put away mended. (I usually bring one that's in pretty bad shape home with me also and rebuild it) Then it's hurry up and wait for the first opener which is usually around May 15.We usually get one opener as sort of a test to see what's around before the fish start making their way up the river to the sonar counters placed up the river after the ice goes out. They count the fish going by and that is one of the main factors in determining future openers.  Our catch rate is another.  They make a chart based on past runs and the timing, and estimate what escapement they should have on a certain date and also what the total for the season should be for that date and allow a small difference either up or down because no two runs track exactly alike as some years the Copper river will be ice free up to two weeks ahead of other years so the runs will hit at different times. But if the run is consistently tracking low, they will reduce or even close the season until the numbers match the desired escapement. Conversely, if the runs are tracking high, they will give us more fishing time.  The biggest problem with this system is that from the fishing grounds to the counter takes about 10 days so there are some situations where a total closure or added fishing time may be the wrong thing to do, which is why paying attention to the catch rate also is important. Say nothing is going by the counter, but we are just killing the fish every opener. Our catch rate indicates a big run, but the counter looks bad. If they close us down completely, and the fish pour into the river, suddenly they are 100s of thousands of fish over their escapement goals. We don't get another shot at those fish as it's too late. But to keep the total escapement within the optimum range (they like to be within a couple hundred thousand fish either way max by seasons end) They will give us way more fishing time. This has it's drawbacks also. maybe the canneries get swamped and have trouble handling the influx of fish. But the biggest risk involves different runs to different systems. The Copper has many tributaries and also there are different smaller rivers on the delta and every different run has different timing. And each system may have more than one run with different timing. So while the Copper may be loaded, by the time they reopen it, the fish in the area we fish may be Delta fish and we may be hitting them harder than is good for them.  The Delta fish get counted differently, from airplanes. The biologists actually go up in small floatplanes and fly over the streams and estimate the fish they can see from the air. But if the weather is stormy, they can't fly. And if it has been raining hard, which is very common there, the streams are muddy and you can't see the fish.  What is frustrating is, the last time they flew, they may have seen 100,000 fish, but if they fly again and can't see them, they act like they are all gone and get conservative with management. But it is what it is and it can take a few years for a biologist to get the feel for what is happening by the in-season clues.

Everybody has their favorite spot to fish, so we usually run out to that area the night before it opens. (most openers for the Copper are at 7 AM) We'll anchor up on "our" spots. Or if we plan on running out into the ocean in the morning, we may raft up with friends and have dinner together and BS. I like to read a book or watch a movie to relax. If I have a specific spot I want to be in the morning and I'm not anchored up there, I get up about 4:30 AM and move there, watching for signs of fish along the way. A plan is always changeable depending on conditions and fish sign. Maybe the weather came up overnight and the place I intended to fish isn't safe now. Or maybe I see a lot of jumpers in a different spot. You always hope for a good first set, because the first 6 hours are usually your best as the fleet mops the fish up. But there are places that can be better late in the period if you know what's going on and how the fish act. If there is a big hit early in the Kok Rip, later on the flood tide there's a good chance the fish will hit the beach at Drug Beach or Summer Beach or inside Kokenhenic. If the Sof Tuk Can is good early, you may want to be at Little Sof Tuk later or again Summer Beach. If The Horseshoe starts with a bang, Pete Dahl or Grass Island my be their destination.  In a hard easterly, especially one that's lasted a couple days or more, the fish may be at the Whistler or the Mousetrap or even Strawberry or Hook Point. Not getting anything in by the beach? Maybe run out to 300 feet and hope for a hit in the tide rips. There is a big learning curve for our area and it can take years before you are right in your educated guesses more than you are wrong. Maybe you are doing OK where you are, but you hear they had big first sets a couple hours run away. What do you do? Many times it's better to just grind away where you are and hope for a hit. It's a real drain on your enthusiasm to run two hours and find the fish are all mopped up, then you run two hours back ti where you were and find out they got a little hit while you were gone. Plus you basically lost 5 hours of fishing time on a 12 or 24 hour opener. A lot of the newer guys form radio groups in which they call each other and report their catch in code. This can sometimes be a help if you have good partners that actually let you in on what they are doing in a timely manner.  But some people ate very one way about communicating. As for me and most of the "old timer" fishermen, It's against my religion to call in other boats when I am making a good catch.  I have done this enough years that I know what to do by the conditions and what I am catching. And I am consistently well above average when the year is over. I learned early in my career that calling boats in when I find good fishing ends up meaning less fish for me to catch.

After about three weeks, a good part of the fleet moves to Prince William Sound to fish chums and more sockeyes near a couple hatcheries. There are also some native runs but the bulk of the fish we catch originate from the hatcheries. A lot of people like the Sound because it's deeper and more calm waters. Plus if they live in Anchorage or Wasilla/Palmer area, they can run to Whittier and drive home on the closures. The Copper River Delta is deadly. The huge waves that storms generate on the Gulf of Alaska hit the shallow waters of the Delta and create deadly breakers. These can be 20 feet high or larger. Crossing the bar to get out on the ocean can be taking your life in your hands. I can't tell you exactly how many friends I've lost over the years but it is well over 20 and there are more that I didn't really know. I'll never forget back in the mid 70s a very good friend of mine who was 18 and had another young friend with him broke down during an opener and was anchored up waiting for a tow up a slough to hide from an approaching storm. I offered him a tow, but he said his uncle was going to get him, so I delivered and went on up the slough.  By the time his uncle came, it was blowing pretty good and they were having trouble rowing my friend's boat. They kept snapping tow lines. So the uncle told him to re-anchor his boat and jump on his boat. But my friend refused to leave his boat and the uncle finally left and ran up the slough. In the middle of the night, it was blowing 50+ and suddenly my friend came on the radio and shouted that he was dragging anchor and going into the breakers. There was nothing anyone could do in the dark in that storm, and we were miles away. The next day, his boat was found upside down about 10 miles away. His dad was a local bush pilot and he flew out to do a search for the bodies. He picked me up for another set of eyes and we flew over to the boat which was now dry on a sand bar. No one was in the cabin. We then flew the beaches in the direction the wind was blowing fot about thirty miles. We found clothes and boots and other gear including Mark's net which they'd evidently set out as an attempt at a sea anchor, but we never found them.  Two other friends died the next year when on a closure they took an airboat out for a moose hunt and swamped it. A few years back, my step sister's husband tried to make it to a protected spot he wanted to fish in a horrible storm and went down. One boat picked up his mayday call and passed it along. I was tied up to a tender behind the cliffs at Whiteshed waiting out the storm when we got the call. It was blowing 80 and raining sideways. But I dropped my anchor and the jumped on the tender and we went looking as we knew the general area he was in about 5 miles from us.  We headed up Ocean Channel towards the Hump big waves with our crab lights on hoping we'd see something (Was about 9 pm in the fall). The Coast Guard had been called and sent a chopper to Egg Island in case he'd made it that far (another 5 miles) There was one tender anchored there behind a sand bar and he also had his halogen crab lights on. When the copper got down to 50 feet above the water and couldn't see the crab lights of the tender, they abandoned the search. When the chopper called they were abandoning the mission we also turned around and headed back towards Whiteshed. On the way we had to make a sharp corner, then run with the storm hitting us on our Starboard side. Then I saw a buoy floating our direction. We tried to get it to see if there was a name on it, but it got away and up into the shallows. Then another came by but with the same results.  Then we spotted a five gallon gas jug which was going slower as it was full and down more in the water where the wind didn't hit it so much. We managed to bring it aboard, but it had no markings on it to identify. But now we were sure a at had gone down and were pretty sure it was Rich. He was the only boat that had gone past Whiteshed we couldn't account for.  Another boat trying to assist in the search ran onto a big rock at the top of high tide and got stuck. We made it back and anchored and then I had to call my step sister and let her know her husband had probably died. The next morning it was flat, glassy calm. The boat on the rock was about 14 feet out of the water like a monument.  And that day I had one of the biggest silver openers I've ever had as the storm blew all the fish to the area I was in. Rich was found 9 months later on the beach of Hawkins Island near Canoe Pass. A fish and game biologist was doing a survey and he noticed some orange raingear and walked over. Rich's remains were inside.  I myself have had many close calls over the years. In 1976 I lost reverse laying out my net near the beach and the waves pushed me in until a breaker flipped my boat upside down on the beach.  Luckily I walked away unharmed. Had a huge wave break over my bow and almost washed me overboard.  Once trying to cross the bar I went over the crest of a 15 foot wave that was very steep and the back side was steeper. My bow was out of the water pointing up as I came off the top of the wave and I was steering my bowpicker (cabin in stern) at the bow controls. I literally dropped 20 feet before hitting the water in the trough of the waves and was driven to my knees by the force. Don't know why I didn't go right through the deck. Then as I was scrambling to get up the next wave broke over the top of me. Another time after a series of storms a friend and I were running home from Bering River. From there, you have to run out on the ocean at least to Little Sof Tuk then you can jump a bar to the inside and smooth sailing. But the ocean was big and rough that day and the breakers at little Sof Tuk weren't appealing. Same ar Sof Tuk and we didn't even think of Kokenhenic which is the worst bar on the Flats. The main stem of the Copper runs out Kokenhenic. Then we heard Egg Is. and Strawberry were closed too, so we decided we were crossing at Grass Is. no matter what.  Grass Island is both of our's favorite spot to fish and we are very familiar with it. The main bar is a mean one, but there is a side channel that meets the main channel and we had it well marked on our GPS. The secret to crossing a bad bar when you are running with the waves is to get on the back of one wave and ride it all the way in. You need enough power to keep up and not be overtaken by the wave behind you and when you finally hit the shallow water, the wave breaks in front of you and mushes out and you finish the ride on a cushion of air bubbles.  With the Hamilton jets that we run, when you hit shallow water, (under 4 ft) you will also pick up speed due to a hydro effect. so you definitely ourtun the wave behind you before it breaks then. My friend went first and I let two waves go between us and I went. I couldn't even see the tops of his antennas over the waves so they were over 15 ft tall. After a heart wrenching 45 seconds or so, we were in the bar and racing up the flat calm channel for town.  From town to Little SofTuk, boats with jets can run inside the barrier Islands, a distance of about 50 miles. The advantage of this is not having to cross a bar in bad weather. A second advantage is the shallower you run, the faster you go and the quicker you get there and it's more of a straight line so you save time and fuel. The third advantage is, the shallower the water, the smaller the waves are so you get a much smoother ride. I am regularly navigating in a foot of water or less. You just want to be very careful you don't hit a hidden sand bar as it can be a sudden stop, and if you get stuck at the top of the tide, you may be there for a couple weeks. It happens every year that someone misjudges and gets badly stuck. We all have good GPS marks and know how much water we need for different areas, but you get tired or aren't paying attention and whump, you're stuck.



A man who fears suffering is already suffering from what he fears. ~ Michel de Montaigne

Offline Sitka_Blacktail

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Re: Commercial Fishing
« Reply #100 on: January 25, 2017, 01:11:32 AM »
Back to the Sound. So the Sound is safer and there are some pretty good runs there, plus the fish are in tighter areas so it's harder to miss them when they are there. Mid June, my wife and teenage son come up to visit and help out and They and I am comfortable having them on the boat. We usually run into Whittier one closure a week to get a room off the boat and get a shower and wash clothes. We may also run to Anchorage to get groceries and see a movie or go visit my grandkids out in the Valley. (Palmer/Wasilla area) We can also get boat parts and net mending gear there if necessary. I had my biggest day ever, fishing on the Sound at Main Bay. It was a fluke which such things usually are. First day of season and they only opened the Flats for 6 hours with a storm coming and the tides wrong. So I headed across to main Bay where they had a small early run of sockeyes they were killing off at the hatchery. They were predicting that that last year, there would be less that 1,000 fish returning, but I took a chance I could catch enough in the three day opener to make it a push with what I'd catch on the Flats in 6 hours. It was a good risk. As I pulled into the Bay I saw one jumper as I ran up to where the terminal area was located. There were three guys I knew anchored up there together and as I approached, they were acting funny. A asked them if I was wasting my time and they didn't really say anything. Then a sea lion came swimming towards the beach and about 200 fish exploded up onto the rocks trying to get away from it. I was stunned. Never seen that before. The a school of fish started by our boats and kept coming and kept coming. OHH YAHHHHH!!!!! Then they nodded and said yah, we've been here three days and haven't even called our wives because we don't want the word to get out. I could hardly sleep that night thinking about those fish. I woke up feeling horrible achy and feverish. Then I'd feel cold then hot and began coughing. I didn't know it then, but I had come down with pneumonia. Time to set, and there were 17 boats out of a fleet of 500 that had come that way. We started setting and the nets all exploded and sank. I started picking and picked about 4,000 lbs and had only gotten about a third of my net up. I was dying from the effort. I ran over to a tender to deliver and a friend who worked on it volunteered to com help me for a crew share which I gladly gave him. I'd have never made it through the day without him. We picked from the other end and had the same results. And as we laid the net out it exploded and sank again. By the end of 14 hours, we finally got my whole net in and I'd caught 20,000 lbs at $2.50/lb. You can do the math. I dropped my friend off and anchored up as boats from town who had heard of our luck showed up. I woke up feeling worse and decided I needed to go see a Dr. so I ran the 4 hours to town. While in town, a writer for major fishing industry magazines called and wanted to interview me as the story of our success that day was spreading. By the time the three days was up, instead of 800 fish, we'd caught over 200,000. Oops!

Depending if I decide to pick pinks/humpies I stay on the Sound until late July or mid Aug. Then I take a short break and fly home with the family. Then I''m back to Cordova by the 20th for Silver season. I use silver season as a wind down time from the season as it's our last shot of fish. Many boats leave by then as its a relatively small fishery for us. An average year is 200,000-300,000 fish as compared to sockeye runs of 2,000,000 on the Copper and the Sound run of another 1.5 million sockeye and 2-4 million chums. I like getting as far from town as I can and so I head down to the Bering River area. It's as wild of a place as there is in the world. A friend once had a black bear swim to his boat and climb aboard to eat the flounders he'd forgotten on his deck when he flew to town. Unfortunately for him, he'd also left the door to the cabin open to air it out and the bear went inside and crapped all over in there. The area is great for moose hunting, goat hunting, and bear hunting, both black and brown. It also has world class duck, goose, and sandhill crane hunting as it's on their flyway south. I have friends who fish there in the fall, just so they can hunt the birds. I usually stay there for a month and might make one trip to town. (Fly in on a float plane) As with Skillet, I depend on the tenders for supplies, but I pack a lot of dried and canned food with me and in an emergency I'll keep a silver to eat or a friend might drop off a moose heart or some steaks or I can dig razor clams on Kanak Island. There is a lot of history in the area from the Ghost town of Katalla to the Bering coal fields and the old narrow gauge railroad that ran from Katalla up the Bering River and the Katalla oil fields. Kayak Island in the area was the site Vitus Bering first came ashore in Alaska and the area was an important Tlinget community. I usually use the closures to hike and explore the islands and pick berries and observe wildlife and just mellow out after a long season.  We get some horrible storms that time of year and when we do, we run up shallow sloughs into the grass banks for protection. We often let our boats go dry and mend gear or go hiking or hunting without worrying about our boats dragging anchor. Some of the guys also do some kayaking  and the last couple years a few of them bring their surf boards and surf off of Kanak Island. When it's all done, we wait for good weather and head to town to put the boat and gear away and I catch the ferry to Valdez and drive back down the Alcan to home. Those trips are very enjoyable too with all the scenery, wildlife, and Liard Hot Springs!

A man who fears suffering is already suffering from what he fears. ~ Michel de Montaigne

Offline Sitka_Blacktail

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Re: Commercial Fishing
« Reply #101 on: January 25, 2017, 01:15:19 AM »
A few more shots
A man who fears suffering is already suffering from what he fears. ~ Michel de Montaigne

Offline Sitka_Blacktail

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Re: Commercial Fishing
« Reply #102 on: January 25, 2017, 01:18:14 AM »
More
A man who fears suffering is already suffering from what he fears. ~ Michel de Montaigne

Offline Sitka_Blacktail

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Re: Commercial Fishing
« Reply #103 on: January 25, 2017, 01:24:07 AM »
I always salt fish up to bring home and pickle.  Here's a few shots of that and a couple more from the fishery.
A man who fears suffering is already suffering from what he fears. ~ Michel de Montaigne

Offline quadrafire

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Re: Commercial Fishing
« Reply #104 on: January 25, 2017, 07:57:29 AM »
Damn Sitka. I could hardly breathe reading of your adventures.  :yike:

 


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[Today at 12:47:24 PM]


Inverter/Generator recommendations for camper by lastmk8
[Today at 12:46:59 PM]


WTS MP Shield .40 by slbrija10
[Today at 12:41:05 PM]


Four Dog Stove For Sale by ghosthunter
[Today at 12:36:29 PM]


Great American Outdoors Act by nwmein199
[Today at 12:33:31 PM]


Multiseason sale? by gonehuntin68
[Today at 12:19:37 PM]


New in 2020 The raw pelt with evidence of sex by D-Rock425
[Today at 12:18:47 PM]


Montana Alternates list by Dansk
[Today at 12:05:32 PM]


new M/L hunter advice by James
[Today at 11:48:54 AM]


Nightforce SHV 5-20x56 by coop2424
[Today at 11:45:49 AM]


July 16 opener by blackpowderhunter
[Today at 11:32:01 AM]


Knight Western Ulite in the Rock Pit by haftard
[Today at 11:20:57 AM]


Ok BEST bullet in general for elk. by WSU
[Today at 11:19:59 AM]


For Sale Beretta 92FS by docsven
[Today at 11:08:54 AM]


Slim pickings by time2hunt
[Today at 10:57:24 AM]