The heart of salmon fishing season is again upon us. Last year, Solitude III's first engagement as a fishing boat yielded no results. So, it was time for a rematch.
There are some pretty choice fishing grounds about 5 miles away from my usual boat ramp. For a high-powered, fancy pants, aluminum fishing boat cruising at 20 kts, that's about a 15 minute run. For Solitude III, it takes closer to an hour. You want to be out early to get the fish, and with the longer passage time, I had to wake up extra, extra early.
To squeak out a few more minutes of sleep, I decided to launch the night before and pay for a night's guest moorage. It was a pleasant evening, and after I had the boat on the water, I scampered around the cockpit, working on a few projects that I had been putting off, including installing a tiller clutch and wiring up my GPS/sounder unit. I still haven't taken the big step of cutting a hole in the bottom of my boat to install the transducer for the sounder yet, but at least I now have GPS capability.
I rolled out of bed a little before 5:00am the next day, and headed down to the boat, and set off. Boy, was it ever foggy. Visibility was in the 1/4 mile to 1/2 mile . I didn't know that it was going to be foggy when I was wiring the GPS the night before, but it was fortuitous that I did, because without it the adventure would have ended before the boat left the dock.
Guided by the dim light of the glowing GPS, I plunged forth into the pre-dawn mist. It was a little eerie out there. I took a course that was well off the straight line to try to put some distance between myself the the steady stream of fast fishing boats racing out (in some cases at faster-than-safe speeds). It was very instructive to try to steer for a while on gut feel and then check my course against the GPS; there is a good reason to rely on your instruments in the fog. Maybe the tensest part of the affair, though, came when I had to cross the ferry lanes at Mukilteo. When under way, the ferries would blow their horns every few minutes, but figuring out exactly where they were in relation to me was impossible. In the end, I simply waited well away from the ferry lanes until I was sure that the boat had passed.
Finally, I arrived at the happy fishing grounds. I dropped my line and settled in. It was quiet, and just a little eerie; the sea was still and dense fog still enveloped the world, creating the illusion of an infinite, featureless world. Occasionally, other fishing boats would flit in and out sight. I fiddled around with lures, speeds, and snacks (I have found that the key to making fish bite is to snack on the right thing). I wasn't getting any hits, but reassuringly, I'd occasionally see a fish roll or jump near me! The fog lifted at noon. I finally could see the other boats around me, and there were quite a few! And then it happened...wango, wango, wango went my fishing rod...fish on! Unfortunately, in my excitement, I horsed it a little too much and knocked the fish off. I sent my line back down and within three minutes I had another one on. This time, there was no escape, and soon a 4lb pink salmon lay in the cockpit, destined to thrown on the BBQ later in the day with some garlic, lemon and butter. Oh yeah.