Saturday, May 14, 2005


A reader just asked me how the fishing is going.

Well, a couple weeks ago, after the Hat boys -- three or four plump interchangeable kids with red hair you could read by -- and Richi (the Makah kid who lives with them) headed down to the beach and 20 minutes later came back with three nice big black rockrish, I decided I was going to have a try, too.

The boys told me that they'd used a salt-and-pepper jig - a plastic fake fish/squid whatsit - to catch 'em.

While at Neah Bay for the new Chamber of Commerce meeting, I picked up a clear plastic silver sparkly jig.

Yesterday, my extremely accurate horoscope, that I read in the Peninsula Daily News, told me to go do social things today. So, today, instead of packing up the last of the Diamond order -- Dan had begged for a break from bagging books and writing addresses on boxes -- I decided to obey the stars and go fishing.

I threw a bunch of jigs -- white, red, and that silver dude -- in an old plastic sour-cream plastic, and Dan and I headed out for low tide.

On the way, we ran into an old Japanese guy ("James" -- the name he uses so round-eyes can call him something), up from Tacoma, and he asked where to go for fish. So I said, c'mon along, I'm new on this beach too, let's see if we all get lucky.

We tromped out along the pebble beach, and then out to the end of the reef point. On the way, we ran into another Japanese guy ("Jim") and turned out they knew each other. Cool. So, with Dan tailing behind watching Eagles, we continued on to the point. J and J are nattering away in Japanese -- the old guy sounding like Takashi Shimura in the Kurasawa movies -- but I keep hearing a lot of "san" this and "san" that, so I figure they're Talking About Their Friends. Don't we all...

We found a nice deep hole amongst the kelp, and said hi to a big grizzled bull sea lion who came by to bark at us and wish us luck.

We rigged up some white jigs and started throwing them into the hole and reeling them back. My jig wasn't going very far. Jim said that I needed a heavier jig. The only hook I had was a big ol' weighted head, really too big for the little silver jig. But I threaded it on anyhoo.

I'd no sooner flipped that thing out there and was slowly reeling it back -- and I got a strike.

NICE fat black rockfish.

I pulled out the hook with my Leatherman and dropped him into a pool in the rocks behind me. Oh, I should mention here I was squealing like a little girl. My dad and the neighbor used to take me fishing, and they caught lots of black rockfish, but I always got skunked. Okay, except for one baby salmon that fought like six rockfish, pulling down the end of the pole and amazing us all when the dinky 9-inch thing came to the surface. We let it go, of course, but if it had been any bigger, it would have taken the boat down.

By this time the Hat boys and Richi show up (oh, hell, when I say the Hat boys, I mean the bunch -- and that includes the little plump Hat girl, although she's all of a sudden shooting up into this tall thing with long legs who the other day I saw WEARING HEELS, so she's officially no longer one of the Hat boys). They're as delighted with my fish as I am -- but that just means the fish are biting.

So now we got two Japanese guys and me and three kids flinging lines off the same rock, and Dan watching eagles behind us with the fancy binoculars they gave him when he retired. I doubt I'm going to catch any more, but with this many jigs, somebody's got to hit.

And I do.

I'm the one gets the next one!

Even bigger and nicer than the first. You've never seen anybody do the Little Tappidty Dance on the far end of a big slippery reef she could have fallen off of into a deep current-sucking hole.

About now Jim decides to go down to the FAR point to see if there are any more fishing holes. And the current turns and brushes the kelp into our hole, and all we start catching is sea-otter salad (Sea otters munch kelp because, like us, they can't produce vitamin C). The eldest Hat boy shows me how to cut the fishes' gills so they'll bleed out and die quickly. I string 'em on a piece of rope I found on the beach and always bring along. James and I leave the kids behind, waving at us from the point.

Dan offers to carry my fishing pole, which is a good idea, because you need a hand to brace yourself in case you slip on the rocks, and one of my hands is hauling fish. About 10 pounds of fish.

Two hours, and we get in a long hike, two fish and all cleaned, filleted and in the freezer. I'm collecting fish for a party I'm having in August, and burying fish fillets in ice. Except for the skeletons -- which always have so much meat on 'em I save 'em to fry. Which is what we're having for supper tonight, with homemade bread and kosher dill pickles. And maybe a nice glass of blush wine.


Beginner's luck, huh?

Now, I will admit something.... whenever you ask fisherguys what they're using for bait, they'll tell you. They'll show you where to fish. They'll tell you what sort of rigs and gear to bring. They'll teach you to cast.

But they won't tell you the Secret Trick they use to catch the fish. That the Hats and the J's didn't see me using while I was rigging the new jig.

And I'm not telling you, either.

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