Friday, August 27, 2010

My first coho

(27 inches, 6 lbs. gutted)

Earlier this week we had quite a bit of rain, becoming almost fall-like. But today the skies cleared up and the sun came out, not that it really matters much as far as fish are concerned.

Yesterday afternoon I fished and thought I caught a large fish, but my reel acted up (at least that's my excuse) and while trying to get it to work properly, the line went slack and whatever was on the other end was gone. I did see a coho jump out in the distance so that was good news: the coho are still around.

The pinks appear to have gone away from the area around our house. I went to one of the creeks earlier in the week and it looks like nearly all of them are on their way up the river. Bodies of fish that have already spawned could also be seen.

This afternoon I went out again and about 45 minutes later I felt resistance, and then the line moving sideways - a sure sign of fish on the other end. I set the hook and pulled and reeled. During the first few minutes the fish was vigorous and pulled the line out, but it seemed to tire fairly quickly. A couple of times it shot up out of the water and did some backflips, trying to dislodge the hook.

Next problem was how to land it. It was high tide and the shore is rocky. After attempting it a couple of times, I finally got it close enough to grab and after a couple of attempts got it grabbed around the collar. Then it jerked and broke the line, but I had it securely and took it up where I hit it over the head with a rock. I took the hook out, gathered up my tackle and headed home where I measured it, photographed it, then gutted and cleaned it.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

What's up...

So what has been going with us the last month?

We returned from our Lower 48 vacation. The weather in Petersburg has been quite warm and dry for much of the time. We've had a few showers here and there but not a whole lot. Looking at the forecast though, it looks like we are headed into a cloudy and showery stretch, and perhaps will remain that way until mid-Fall.

The church group that meets together, after meeting in our home since early Spring, has moved to the Presbyterian church. This is to accommodate some of our older members who have difficulty with mobility. Our home has stairs leading up to it unless a person goes all the way to the back. The path to the back is narrow and cannot accommodate motorized wheelchairs. The Presbyterian church has a ramp going up to the front entrance. We are working our way through the book of Acts as a weekly Bible study.

The group also comes together every Tuesday evening for supper at our house. Being in my own kitchen allows me to put together more interesting menus than when we held this at the church.

The group has also grown by a few people. We now have two younger girls who joins us regularly and their mother, when she is available.

Shelley has started work at Papa Bear's pizza, though it appears she is experiencing some difficulties there. We are encouraging her to stick with it a while longer. Shelley has also been baby sitting a couple nights a week. The mother goes to work and Shelley stays overnight in case someone is needed.

I continue to spend time fishing. I caught my fifth pink salmon today. I had been out there over an hour and I was packing it in, casting out for the last time when the fish hit. It fought valiantly but in the end I prevailed. The hook was quite securely set in its mouth. It turned out to be a 24.5 inch male. The photo below shows his spawning hump starting to develop.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Seems quite a few pinks in the sea

I went out around noon to see what I might or might not catch at low tide. I hooked another fish, probably a pink (did not see it) and I played with the line for a couple of minutes until suddenly the line broke. It wasn't going that hard and the place where it broke was unusual. I had just replaced the leader line on the lure with a brand new line, so there shouldn't have been any problems with it. Usually one of the knots would fail, but the break was in the middle of the leader. The only thing I can figure is that as the fish dove around, the line rubbed on rocks or barnacles and that caused the line to break.

This evening I went out to catch the high tide and not too long after I got out there, I hooked a pink and after several minutes of fighting I was able to land it and bring it home. It was 21 inches long.

Pink #3

I woke up this morning early, about 5 a.m. I did a few things and then about 6 a.m. looked out the window and couldn't help but notice how absolutely beautiful and perfect it was outside. The water was nice and calm. It seemed like a perfect opportunity to go and toss out the line. If I caught a fish, that would be a bonus.

Once out I saw pockets of schools of fish feeding near the surface. That could only mean salmon had to be nearby. I saw a few fish follow my lure but they were all pretty small.

It was after I had been out there close to an hour when I felt a definite tug and jerking on the line. I began to reel in and pulled tight after a few seconds to set the hook. Then it was a waiting game of letting the fish go out with the line, reeling it in, back and forth for several minutes until it was weakened enough to bring it home.

Once close enough to the shore I could see that it was definitely a pink and a good sized one at that. I pulled it in a few times to see if it was weak enough, but it still had strength to go out. Finally it no longer fought and I pulled it in. The tide was far enough out now that I could just drag it onto the beach - much less chance for it to give a final jerk and spit out the hook.

I took it home, measured and weighed it: 23.5 inches long and close to 4.5 pounds.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

More salmon

This morning I cooked and consumed the last of the king salmon. I broiled it with some tarragon and then sprinkled some lemon zest and juice after I placed it on the plate.

I caught another pink salmon this afternoon. It was 20.75 inches long and weighed in at just over 3 pounds.

When I opened it up I discovered it was female with quite a bit of roe. I hadn't a clue how to get the roe prepared, or even if it was possible to do so. I saved it just in case. After I had finished with the fish, I searched on the web for instructions on preparing the roe. The simplest method I found is to prepare it in brine and save it in a jar. It is supposed to keep up to two weeks this way.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Kelp Greenling with lime, butter, and cilantro

This is what kelp greenling looks like after it is cooked. It is a white flesh fish. I marinated the fillets in lime juice and salt, and then pan-fried them in butter. After setting them on the plate, I drizzled some of the browned butter over the top and then placed some cilantro leaves on top.

It tasted quite a bit like cod and lingcod, both which are relatives of the kelp greenling.

On a slightly different note, I got to use the fish spatula that I purchased during our vacation a few weeks ago. I cooked these fillets in the All-Clad stainless steel pan and they didn't stick. I really like the way the pan heats evenly and quickly and how I'm able to use fairly low heat settings and still get the food to cook.

My first salmon

As I posted yesterday I went out last evening to try to catch salmon. As I also posted, I ended up with a greenling and no salmon.

This morning I decided to try Blind River Rapids. I dislike fishing here because all I do is lose lures. But I heard there were still kings migrating upstream. When I got there, indeed there were salmon making their way up. I spent about two hours there. I snagged lures so many times I was surprised I only ended up losing 2-1/2 lures (the 1/2 was a BuzzBomb where I actually was able to retrieve the main lure part but lost the hook and the rubber washer). I was highly annoyed.

The timing was just right so that after I got home, I got a quick lunch and then went out to the Narrows just down from the house. I spent an hour casting and retrieving. I saw a handful of salmon jumping, but always way off in the distance. I tried BuzzBombs, a hoochie/flasher, a Zinger, and finally a Kastmaster. I gave myself until 2 p.m.

Then I felt resistance on the line. Did it get snagged on the bottom? The possibility was there, but low since it was rather high tide. Did I snag a huge piece of seaweed? That possibility was much higher, with the ever-present debris in the waters. But it wasn't acting quite like seaweed. Hmm... It was certainly heavier than a typical Dolly, and even more than a largest Dolly that I've experienced.

I decided to play it safe and release the tension on the baler and I could see and hear the line going out. Ah. This was likely a real fish on the end. I've previously lost what I suspected might be large catches by tugging and pulling too rapidly and hard. As I began to play with the line I could definitely feel the fish moving about. It went this way and that, in and out. It would rest and then try to zoom away. I could see that the hook was caught right around one of the jawbones - a tenuous location that pulling too suddenly might have broken. After several minutes the fish was beginning to tire and now I had to figure out a way to land it successfully. With Dollies I usually just fling it up and over, but this was too big for that. I carefully pulled it closer to shore, reeling in the line and then slowly pulled it out.

I had set it down and had pulled out the hook when it flipped and I lost grip. Aaaaaahhhhh! I didn't want to lose all my hard work back into the water. It was considerably weakened so after a short, desperate scramble I wedged it under my knees then grabbed it in its gills to secure it and whack it over the head with a rock a few times to stun it. With all that accomplished I brought my trophy home, showed it to the girls (Elise is working - so she'll get to see it tonight), then cleaned it.

Here is the humpy (pink salmon), 22-1/2 inches long:

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Kelp Greenling

I was told there were humpies (pink salmon) at one of the creeks, so I drove out and fished there for a few hours. There were indeed humpies, but they weren't biting. They were going up the creek. You'd think that having lived here for nearly four years, I'd have seen salmon going up rivers, but oddly enough this is the first time I've actually seen it in the wild. It was a cool sight, watching the fish fight the current, jumping up small rapids. (It would have been better if I had caught one... but that's another story.)

What I did catch were a couple of small sculpins and the kelp greenling (female) pictured here. I wasn't quite sure what I had caught. Greenlings include the lingcods, so I was pretty sure it was one or the other. After returning home and looking at the sport fishing handbook, I was able to identify it. Next time I catch one like it, I will know. The next thing to figure out is whether this thing was worth cleaning. After doing a few web searches and learning about kelp greenlings, including the Wikipedia entry above, I learned that indeed they can be quite tasty. I had already figured that since lingcods are prized fish, kelp greenlings were at least edible.

The first thing I discovered upon starting to clean it was that this fish is quite scaly, unlike the Dollies I've been catching. Well, it is quite kosher, for those that care. I scaled, gutted, and cleaned before bringing it inside for the photo shoot.

Given my lack of experience with most freshly caught fish, this fish looks very "fishy." What was most surprising is that it really doesn't smell fishy at all. If I stick my nose right next to it and inhale, I can tell that yes, it is fish.