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11 responses to “Heeding the Siren’s Song of Salmon”

  1. Amy

    So glad you got to experience this! Weather was too rough for us to go out on a fishing boat when I was there, but fishing in a tiny stream was wonderful. Almost meditative, you know, when I wasn’t getting caught in fishing line and snagged by a hook…

  2. Jake Smulkowski

    What a wonderful trip. That sounds like the perfect vacation to me. Hank, do you bleed all your fish upon catching them?

  3. Ricardo Rodríguez

    That´s a great story, very inspiring. Makes me almost feel compeled to sign for a fishing job.

  4. Chas Clifton

    Sport-fishing for salmon in the Straits of Juan de Fuca, I’ve wondered if I could have done it for a living. Perhaps not! But it was a good fantasy.

  5. Marge Perry

    So glad you loved Cordova as much as we did! We, too, went gill net fishing (with Bill Weber), but it was later in the season. We caught only one salmon– one with a gash along his belly where he’d gotten in the way of a hungry seal but managed to escape. Our fish was shipped home to us and made for several fine meals.
    We’re heading back to Cordova in September and can’t wait to return! We won’t be fishing this time, but we have other adventures lined up.

  6. Laura Kompkoff

    What a terrific article Hank! You managed to capture the essence of Cordova. Your beautiful writing was able to convey your experience, letting the reader really feel like they were there. I could feel and smell the crisp, salty air, and hear the birds overhead while water laps against the hull. Most of all, I could feel the excitement and the thrill of watching those corks bob. Alas, I felt the longing that leaving Cordova brings. Be careful of that siren’s song…it’s been know to lull many a fisherman back into Cordova’s net.

  7. Mike Spies

    Hank, I fished pulling salmon on a 34′ Monterey troller years ago. Hard work, and I’d do it again in an instant. The freedom of ‘hunting gathering’ seems to run deep in all of us.

  8. Adam

    Very nice narrative Hank. I grew up fishing for bass and panfish in Oregon, but when I moved to Alaska I knew I was where I was supposed to be. I bought a 21′ Bayrunner and spent weekends running out Resurrection Bay. By the time my Dad and Daughter showed up for an August fishing trip I had it down pretty good. We would launch in Seward, run 20 miles to the mouth, and either start jigging or bait up for Silvers when we found them. Jigging produced many species of rockfish, flounder, and the occasional legal lingcod. We started the day with two 48qt coolers, one of them containing lunch fixings. If you’ve ever fished August on a warm sunny day on the water, 9pm feels like about 3 in the afternoon. I was never cognizant of the time slipping away until I realized we had already removed all the lunch fixings and had nowhere else to put fish as both 48qt coolers were full of fish. That’s when I looked at my watch to see that it was after 8pm and I still had to run back in, load the boat, gas up for the next morning, head back to fish camp, and clean all of these fish! The hardest task of all was getting my 10 year old daughter to put her pole down. She had been going non-stop for 12 hours already, 3 days in a row, and simply did not want to quit fishing!
    Long story short, I’d be up until 1am cleaning and cryopacking fish every night, but my little girl would be right next to me in her little waders bringing me fish, washing the cutting board, and laying the clean fillets out to air dry before packing. This would also be the reason we couldn’t make it to the water before 8am every day.

    I’m in Afghanistan right now, but I grew up in Oregon, and when I think of home, the place I get homesick for is Alaska. My little girl just turned 18, graduated high school, and is off to college this fall. I asked her what she wanted as a graduation gift, and do you know what she said? God Bless her little heart, she wants to go back to Alaska to fish those long, beautiful August days out of Seward again! I’m planning a trip for next August right now.

  9. Betsy Delph

    Just spent a piece of time commercially trolling for coho in SE Alaska, and it’s nice to read about a different type of first-time commercial fishing adventure! I was on a freezer boat, where, after heading and cleaning the fish, they are frozen to -38F very swiftly, followed by a salt-water ice glazing.

    Big difference between trawling and trolling boats, in size, style and sustainability–did you actually admire trawlers as a kid? These days, there aren’t many small ones found in harbors, they seem mostly to be the ocean-floor and sea-life decimating behemoths.

    Thanks for the post, I haven’t gotten to hear a good description of gillnetting before.

  10. Gerry McDonald

    Hank, Great article and perspective from a gill netter. I’ve had the pleasure of flyfishing for sockeyes in the Cordova area several times over the past 6 years. Unforgetable, they fight like nothing else. We would pack coolers with food for the trip and return with sockeye fillets. I think I might go again next summer. BTW, I think Alaska does a better job managing their fisheries than anywhere else.

    Coeymans Hollow NY

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