Saturday, June 15, 2013

Harvesting The Pacific

A lot of people are happy just to look out over the expanse of an ocean and listen to the sound of the waves on the coast. I like that too. But hunter/gatherer better describes how I like to appreciate the sea and its many and diversified resources.

Wind. You may not associate wind with the sea, but you should. The variation in temperature between the land and the sea creates a disturbance that creates a breeze- and some times a pretty darn good one. It makes opportunities for recreation like sailing, wind surfing, kite flying, kite surfing and other such activities possible. One of the top 5 places in the world to wind surf is at Pistol River, Oregon. That happens to be just a few miles down the beach from our Gold beach base. Not that I am going to wind surf, mind you- those days are pretty much long gone. But an international championship will be held there in just a matter of days and we plan, weather permitting, to attend the event and see what it's all about. Should be fun, and will make for something that I have never posted about before.

Found on the beach. depending on where you are and what kind of shoreline you have, there are a whole host of goodies you can find on the beach, from shells to sea glass to drift wood and maybe even a message in a bottle. The beaches here do not have much in the way of shells at all. Plenty of driftwood that we collect because either it is just plain beautiful or it will fit in our camp fire ring very nicely. No sea glass at all. Some fine gold, though. And at the high water mark, pieces of dried kelp that we will use to make "baskets" and the like in a class coming up real soon. More on that later.

Musseling, crabbing, clamming, all fun and we go as often as tide and time will allow. Fishing? Same thing- mostly from the dock or the jetty or a spit as we have no boat here that can go in these rough waters. But this week I made a deep sea trip with Five Stars Charters out of Gold Beach. On their charter trips, you set crab traps on the way out, fish all day out at sea, then pull the crab pots on the way back into port. If we catch plenty of crab, all on board have their crabs cooked for them back at the dock while the fish are being cleaned. On this trip, the crabbing, as it has been for us so far, was pretty bad. The sea temps are just too cold for the crabs to be close to shore right now. The fishing for Ling Cod was pretty good. The sea swell (the feature of the sea that can make you sea sick) was also very active and for the second year in a row fishing deep sea here I spent much of the day fighting hurling my cookies over the side. Fortunately I did not do that and managed to keep fishing. And for that effort I was rewarded with a limit of two ling cod (both about 12 pound fish) and a limit of black and blue rockfish. I caught a few other species that the season was closed on and they were returned to the water unharmed. It was a day when the fog and drizzle did NOT roll in, so we had a clear view of the shoreline and the sea rocks and stacks around us at all times. I hasten to add that the smell of those rocks from the abundance of sea lions and birds made for a not so great odor; in fact, if you were not gonna get sick from the sea swell, you might just do it from the smell of the local wildlife.But still, plenty of fish for the freezer at the end of the day and enough crab to take home as a treat for Marilyn who never met a crab she didn't like.

One further note: I briefly had to battle a Stellar sea lion who decided (though it doesn't happen often) to grab a ling cod on my fishing line and make it a meal of his own. For a minute there I thought I had a whopper of a fish. Turned out to be a big bad bull sea lion who came up to the surface with the fish and lure in his mouth, looked right at the boat, gave out a mighty roar or two, shook his head and spit out the lure, setting him (and me) free, but keeping the fish secured in his jaws. I am quite sure he sustained no injury from the contact, BUT I am just as sure that he was pissed off! Pardon the French!

You should notice there are absolutely no pictures anywhere from the actual deep sea fishing part of the trip this week. That is because I knew I had two choices: one- look through a view finder and puke my guts out, OR two- forget about taking pictures, look at the beautiful scenery and keep on fishing. It was, after all, a fairly simple choice to make.

It was a good week for harvesting the Pacific.

Wind surfers near Gold Beach

Captain setting crab traps at sunrise

a dungeness crab

a red rock crab

Slide Show:

Video Clip: Big Red Crabbing machine coming down the dock!

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