Opening Day - Summer 2012

Posted on June 26th, 2012

First day of fishing!

We chose to fish on the 25th of June which was, technically, the 2nd opener of the season. We left the harbor at 5 am sharp, excited to see what we would find in the Cook Inlet for the early part of the season. The fish we catch in this part of the season are usually very bright, however, not numerous. Our smaller catches from this part of the season are hand-bled and iced and sold to a small seafood company in Homer. Additionally, this season, we will start direct marketing our beautiful salmon to the public. These fish are handle with amazing care and will be the finest wild Alaskan salmon you can purchase.

The conditions as we left Kachemak Bay for Cook Inlet were perfect for fishing: overcast with a slight southwest wind. Seas were about two feet for the trip out. We passed scads of otters and then hit a section of the bay that was filled with long pieces of kelp and seaweed as well as drifting logs and other debris. We got a long piece of kelp wrapped around one of the props and had to put it in reverse briefly which cleared it right out. The period for fishing opens at 7 am and we reached the fishing area about 6:30 am and were ready for our first set at 6:58! We let the net go at 7 am sharp!
Understanding the tides and knowing how the fish react to tides and conditions is imperative to successful drift net fishing. Captain Wes doesn't need any practice! He reads the water like a book, finding places to set which take best advantage of the conditions and circumstances. He has his favorite spots and draws on his many years experience to make the best of each set. But I can't divulge any secrets here! Knowledge of the best spots and practices is highly guarded information!
Of course, we were very excited when the fish first hit the net. Bobbing corks and splashing fins are always cause for celebration. There was a bit of whooping and hollering as we ran the net to check our progress. After a little soak, we pulled the net and...23 fish our first set! A great start to the 2012 season! Most were sockeye but there were also one or two chum salmon (also called "dogs"). All of us were amazed at the size of some of the sockeye (red) salmon; there were some big reds in our net. Wes said the variety of size showing at this point in the season was indicative of an upcoming strong run this summer. We are all hoping that is the case!
We fished the rest of the day through a slight drizzle. Combined with an temp around 50, it made for a damp and chilling day. Despite the rain, the seas were nearly flat calm during the slack tide and only started to swell slightly as the tide ebbed. We drifted down towards the line for our last set and completed the day with 112 fish and no "water-hauls" (we caught fish in every set). Overall, that made us feel pretty good about our first day! We had some technical difficulties with one of the hydraulic pumps but other than that, everything went very smoothly. Here's to the 2012 fishing season!

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