Saturday, July 14, 2007

Fish Friday

Two tasty silvers today. We landed them and a pink salmon in a flurry of activity that lasted less than an hour. Brian let me fight them all into the boat. The big guy wrapped the line around the engine, which Brian untangled in an impossibly quick feat of logic while I clutched the reel to prevent the fish from gaining any more leverage. The next two hit right away, bam bam, as a half dozen boats swarmed closer to what everyone hoped was a huge school of salmon. I reeled and danced around Brian who was juggling the net and the fish skull basher and at one point knives, as the boats closed in and wake kicked up and the sea swirled in a vortex of incongruous activity.

Then, just like that, all was quiet again. My heart was pounding, and I sat back down in a bit of a stupor, not really knowing what to do with myself or what would come next. Fishing is really nothing like cycling, which has a fluidity to it ... a continuous movement that ebbs and flows and eventually finds its even pace. Cycling is strenuous until it's not. Fishing is relaxing until it's not.

Fishing also makes me voraciously hungry - much moreso then cycling. Longer rides usually rob me of my full appetite for more than a day. But fishing ... I spend an afternoon sitting and gazing out at the water only to come home with an urge to take little bites out of every single piece of food in the fridge. I'll admit I have only a passing interest in fishing ... but there is something undeniably primal about the sport that makes it really rewarding. When I spend an afternoon gazing out at the water and looking for whales, what I am really doing is spending an afternoon fixated on the violent notion of winning food. And when I come home with a carcass in a bag, I want to devour my reward. Geoff and I pan fried some fillets with chili peppers, creating two big hunks of blackened salmon. Then we used the head and carcass to make a big pot of salmon chowder. Oh, and we had a little salad too.

Worth it? Yes.


  1. Fishing definitely requires some degree of passivity. Unlike biking you need those extra seconds of relaxation to snap open that can of beer; it just tastes so great as you bob up and down on the water. (So much for the killing of primal instinct.) Cycling doesn’t exactly offer that reward in that same way. Beer in cycling is more carrot and stick. You suffer more for that taste at the end of the ride. (Never mind recovery drinks.)

    Nice post, as usual.

  2. Fresh silvers, nice, still had sea lice on them. Looked like the one in your left hand was a female with eggs?

    To mix cycling & fishing, maybe rig the reel to the hub of a trainer mounted in the boat, then, when there's a fish on, pedal real hard. Definitely YouTubeable.

    We'll be in Anchorage (w/bikes) for ten days begining next week. Riding to Seward on the weekend. Can't wait.

  3. Jill's artic cycling/moby dick adventures =)

  4. You look super lovely in that first photo. :)

  5. Yay, congratulations on your catch! Loved the description (but I always do).

    "Jihad Jill Slays Silvers"?

  6. Congrats on the fish! That's one thing I really miss about Alaska: Free, fresh, salmon!

  7. Oh, almost forgot: I'm very glad your knee is better.

    How far are you planning on doing the Iditarod ride?

  8. Hey...I just read your response to my response on mtbr. I lived in Koyuk, Alaska for three years and I have been to Alaska many times, mostly on climbing trips.. my wife and I were school teachers in Koyuk in the mid 90s. But alas we never caught fish like the ones you guyz hooked in to "down south." This is a great site...visit mine sometime if you got time...:)

  9. I had only once fresh caught salmon up in Sweden and it was to die for:)
    Very delicious!!

  10. Good job with the catch. Very nice.

  11. Soooooo true !!....well said

    "Cycling is strenuous until it's not. Fishing is relaxing until it's not."


    great catch

    other than a sandshark or a stingray I do not think I have ever reeled in anything so large

    then again...

    your hikes are more impressive
    your rides are more impressive
    your sky is more impressive
    it only stands to figure
    your fish would be more impressive

    I could go out and catch some bluegills or sunfish!


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