I have the worst pinched nerve in my neck today.
That happens whenever I put any strain on my back. I try not to do it. But last night, a big lingcod surprised me.
Friend and fellow artist Chris Wasankari was with me when I was fishing for greenling.
A lot of greenling fishing involves starting to haul in a foot-long fish, and suddenly have a huge pole-bending fight on your hands, and then the fight goes out of it, or the fish escapes. You wonder that such a small fish has so much fight.
A greenling started its small steady pull on the line, and I started to reel it in. Suddenly the pole dropped and I had a real fight on my hands. Reeling in so hard and fast is what hurt my neck.
I nearly had the fish to the beach when the heavy pressure came off, and the fish I pulled in was again just a foot-long greenling. Good eating, but where comes this huge fight? Are greenling that strong?
The fish was scored with the marks of larger jaws, and the vent was torn open. I had proof of what I'd long been suspecting.
When you hook a greenling and drag it out of a kelp bed, sometimes a lurking lingcod rushes out and grabs it. A ling is a big mean cousin of the little mollusk-eating greenling.
If the ling can haul the greenling off the hook, you lose the fish. If the ling can't get the greenling off the hook, it spits it out and you get a bit-up fish. I once saw one of the Hat boys haul in a three-foot-lingcod, its greedy mouth stuffed with a hooked greenling. The fish was dragged clear into the shallows and the only reason the kid didn't grab it is because, unlike its smooth-mouthed cousin, it has a mouthful of tiger teeth, befitting a predator. That one managed to yank the kid's catch loose and take off.
So if you're ling-cod fishing, grab fast, don't get your hands near its teeth -- and don't reel in too fast or hard.