Sunday, July 26, 2015

Fish story

I love to fish. But, I rarely do it anymore. I think it's because I have so many other things going on in my life. That's not a good excuse but it is the only one I have.

My Dad loved to fish as well and some of my earliest memories are of being wakened at two in the morning to go fishing with him. He would come in to my bedroom and put his hand on my shoulder and I was instantly awake and ready to go. When I was a pre-teen, the destination was a deep sea fishing boat tied up at Norm's Landing at San Pedro in the Los Angeles Harbor. When we arrived at the dock I could hear all the idling engines of the sport fishing fleet  and see the bright deck lights cutting through the ever present fog. I just knew it was going to be a great day! Usually, we would take a Day boat as opposed to a Half Day boat and our usual destination was Catalina Island. Or to the reef that was about halfway to the island.

Once we were on board we had to take our chance on a number dawn out of a hat. That number represented an assigned space on the railing of the boat. At the same time we were asked if we wanted in on 'The Jackpot'. The largest fish caught that day would take all the money in the pot. It was usually just a few dollars to enter and we always put our money in. I don't remember ever winning?

One every one was aboard, the Skipper would back the boat out of the slip and begin a slow journey down the channel. Although it was still quite dark, the port of Los Angeles was busy. There were boats of every size going in all directions and the canning factories were humming. After about ten minutes, the Skipper would slow the engine and we would drift up next to a live bait boat that was anchored in mid channel. There were floating cages all around this boat and they all contained sardines. Lots and lots of sardines! Now the deckhands went to work as they transferred net loads of sardines and dumped them into the live bait well on our boat. It was best to observe this process from a safe distance as silvery scales were flying everywhere! And they stuck to everything they touched.

With a full load of live bait it was time to leave the harbor. The ocean changes dramatically as you abandon the calm waters of the harbor and face the full power of the Pacific. If you were lucky, large 'ground swells' would lift the boat slowly and then slowly drop it back. Over and over. If you were unlucky, you would be greeted by waves that would make the boat shudder as she plowed through them. Now the rise and drop were not at all gentle and you would have to find something to hold onto. The words 'pitch' and 'yaw' took on a new meaning. The railing now seemed to be too low to the deck and I could imagine myself pitching over it easily. I stayed close to the cabin and out of the wind.

Once we knew there was going to be a two or three hour boat ride, all the activity was centered in the cabin. Most these boats had large cabins with a galley and a cook. And there was always a poker game going on at the big table. And my Dad was always right in the middle of it. I watched and tried to understand the game but failed, and after awhile, I would find a corner and put my head down and go to sleep.

I'll return to this trip in a later post...

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