Wednesday, August 17, 2011

My first fish

I went ocean fishing for a story, thanks to Betty Kay Charters out of Charleston. First of all, they are just the NICEST people. Seriously. And so helpful, even for beginners.

So you have to get up super early — I had to be there before 6 a.m. Ugh. I was tired and a bit nervous I wouldn't catch anything. That was silly thinking.

Once we got to our first fishing spot (they have fish finders in the boats so they know exactly where the rockfish are hiding), we were taught how to let out the line until it hits the bottom. As soon as Captain Kathi was done showing me, my line had a bite. My first cast.

I reeled and reeled and reeled and reeled, and when I was too tired to fight this fish, I reeled some more. I was breathing hard as if I'd been running, and my arms were burning. When I finally pulled the fish above the water line, Bam Bam (the deck hand, he was great) netted it and flopped it on the deck.

It was huge. And it was eating another fish. Both were ling cod, the best of the best for these rockfishing trips. I had hooked the smaller fish, but it was too small too keep. Luckily, the big one wasn't letting go of its breakfast, because she got tossed right in my bucket!

Many hours and different fishing spots later, I had my limit of seven rockfish, plus one ling cod. We scooted back to the dock, and they rushed my fish to get weighed. Twenty-nine pounds. Twenty-nine pounds of delicious fish.

Here's the beast, barely fitting in my bucket full of other fish.

A nice guy named James, who was on the same boat and took my pic with the fish after it got weighed, held open its mouth for me. Those teeth are sharp.

Here's me with my fish! Lots of people were taking my picture, and even more were stopping by and asking me about it. Beginner's luck, I tell ya.

Overall, that was one of the most fun things I've ever done for my job (yeah, I was clocked in while I was on the water). I can't wait to do it again.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Fruitless fishing

Last Friday was a perfect example of why I love this job. To do a story on a fishing guide, he gladly allowed me to tag along on one of his guided boats, and we went to the Umpqua River, which flows half an hour north of the Bay Area.

It was foggy. It was early. Like, 6 a.m. early. We couldn't see the other side of the river, and we launched almost silently, save for his boat's motor.

Here's Rick and his dog, Molly, who was trying to get the bubbles coming from the motor. She was adorable — couldn't wait to get a fish.

U.S. Highway 101 bridge, behind the fog.

Got to watch the sun rise and burn off the fog — incredible feeling.

And by the end of the morning, it looked like this. I got some sun (mostly on my ears and hands, since they were basically the only parts exposed). What we didn't get was fish. Not a bite. Not a nibble. Nothing.

Rick couldn't believe it. The conditions were right. The bait was nice. He's done this his whole life, so he certainly wasn't mistaken. Sometimes the fish just aren't hungry, I suppose.

His boat caught 10 fish the next day. And he nabbed a 40-pound salmon on Monday. The luck of the outdoors writer — perhaps their fishy friends warned them about all the spawning (and necessary killing) I'd done at the hatcheries. Oh well, it still wasn't a bad way to work for six hours on the clock.