Posts Tagged ‘fishing license’

Canadian rough fish: delicious but bony

July 31, 2017

The prep and the time that it took

For the sinker, the line, and the hook

And don’t forget bacon

For the rig that you’re makin’

When you fish the lake or the brook.

Synopsis: I’m a Family Practitioner from Sioux City, Iowa. In 2010 I danced back from the brink of burnout, and honoring a 1 year non-compete clause, traveled and worked in out-of-the-way places in Alaska, Nebraska, Iowa, and New Zealand. After three years working with a Community Health Center, I went back to traveling and adventures in temporary positions. Assignments in Alaska, rural Iowa, suburban Pennsylvania and western Nebraska have followed.  I finished my most recent assignment in Clarinda on May 18.  Right now I’m in northern British Columbia, getting a first-hand look at the Canadian system. Any identifiable patient information has been included with permission.

A lot of people in this town do a lot of fishing.   And while I really enjoy the sport, my lack of knowledge, skill, and experience give the fish quite an advantage.  I approach the problem like I approach a clinical case with unclear references: I ask the successful.  Anglers love to talk and show off their cell phone pictures.

I got clues to several spots where the fish congregate. I bought swivels, hooks, sinkers, lures, and a net.   The panel consensus for bait, to my surprise, came down to bacon.  For a lot of reasons, I haven’t bought bacon for decades, but I ignored all those nitrites on the other side of the plastic, and bought a kilo of ends and trimmings.

The real commitment came when I paid for my license.

So on Sunday morning, Bethany and I put the bug spray, sunscreen, and bear spray into her backpack, loaded the pole and my lunch box (I don’t have a real tackle box) into the car, and set off for one of the local myriad of lakes, the most commonly recommended spot.

With a breeze strong enough to deter mosquitos, and skies fresh washed by heavy rain the night before, we pulled onto a spit of land and parked in the shade.

I can’t tell you why I can handle worms and body parts without revulsion, but bacon makes my skin crawl. Still, I got a good hunk of it on the hook, and casted it into the wind.  The idea of this rig is to put the sinkers on the bottom and have the bait floating free.  Then I sat down on a log.  Bethany, who helped assemble the equipment, sat down to read.

My mind drifted.

More serious, better equipped fisherman would have a truck and a boat. Or at least a good size cooler, a chair, and a real tackle box.  But I learned in archery that the more seriously you take something, the less fun you’re having when you do it.  And, at this stage of the game, I can’t blame the pole for angling failure.

Then the rod thumped in my hand. I tried jerking the pole to set the hook but the sinkers had wedged up against something on the bottom.  I jerked, and pulled this way and that, and started to reel in the line.  Of course by that time the fish had thrown the hook.

I kept cranking, knowing I’d have to rebait.

Then the rod thumped again, and I realized the fish hadn’t thrown the hook.

I pulled in an 18 inch fish that I couldn’t identify. With Bethany’s help, I dispatched him.  I put more bacon on the hook (not as bad the second time), and cast again.

The second fish took the bait but not the hook.

The third fish, of the same species as the first, took the hook deep and, though smaller, couldn’t survive release.

We now had enough fish for a meal for two. And as much fun as fishing is, I don’t harm animals except for food and self-defense.

I fried the two fish, both a bit big for the frying pan. We found the flesh tasty but bony.

I changed clothes in the afternoon and went over to the hospital

My patient, one of those who know more about fishing than I do, identified the fish as a pikeminnow (formerly called squaw fish), a rough or coarse fish without limit or size restrictions.

Fish snobbery fills the angling world; Iowans turn their noses up at the invasive silver carp, Alaskans won’t eat pink salmon, and fly fishermen display bumper stickers saying “To spin is to sin.”

But I was thrilled to catch a rough fish the length of my forearm. Even if I had to touch bacon.



End of the Salmon Season

August 26, 2013

The cannery workers get tired,

In the cold and the wet they perspired.

Your attitude sours

With unreasonable hours

I watched a fellow get fired.

Synopsis:  I’m a family practitioner from Sioux City, Iowa.  I danced back from the brink of burnout in 2010, and, honoring a one-year non-compete clause, went to have adventures and work in out-of-the-way locations.  After jobs in Alaska, New Zealand, Iowa, and Nebraska, I returned home and took up a part-time, 54 hour a week position with a Community Health Center.  I’m taking a working vacation now in Petersburg, Alaska.

A cannery worker in Petersburg signs up for 10 weeks of 16 hour shifts, and no days off.  One hundred twelve hours in a week fetches 72 hours of overtime, to make the equivalent of 148 hours of pay.  An unskilled worked could conceivably gross $11,000 in a summer, but faces the difficulty of paying for a round trip ticket.  The cannery offers a bonus of $400 to those who finish the summer.

People with functional, stable home lives don’t sign on for that kind of job; each person on the cannery work force brought drama with them.  And each bit of drama showed irony when it arrived on this island.

One plant has 600 workers but loses 2% per week.  This season, 120 workers quit or got fired.

Undoubtedly a few get news from home that whatever they fled from has resolved.  Substance abuse sabotages others.  But a good number just break under the strain of sleep deprivation.

One patient came right out and asked for a day off to sleep in front of the plant safety manager, who  said, “Please, doc, give it to him.  He’s been working 16 hours a day for the last 10 weeks.”

I rarely find that kind of sympathy coming from management; I wrote the note from my heart.

No one should work doctors’ hours except doctors.  I understand why management set things up this way.  Housing comes at a premium, workers want to maximize the return on their travel investment.

I see the human cost.

On my last day here, a Sunday on call, I walked back from the Medical Center.  With patients tucked in, and no work expected for a couple of hours, I stepped into the rain, under the sky completely overcast.  I walked two blocks downhill to the main drag, Nordic Drive, and a block up to the hardware store, past cannery workers looking lost and exhausted, speaking English, Spanish, French, Patois, and Amharic.  I bought a 3 day fishing permit to start Monday.

I turned up Nordic Drive, walking uphill, south, between the canneries and the cannery housing.  A block ahead, I saw a tall, thin young man with an enormous duffel on his back, and a blue backpack hanging in front.  He spoke to an older, shorter man, who, judging from body language, gave directions to either the ferry terminal or the airport.  The younger man appeared confused.

As I passed the pair, I heard the young man say, “I don’t understand why.”

The older man said, “Because you’re terminated.”

The young man had spent close to a thousand dollars to get here, had worked horrible hours, and faced an unscheduled departure.

I kept walking up the hill.  Within a hundred paces I left behind the cannery noise, industry and commerce, the large Victorian homes built a hundred years ago at the edge of town, past the top of the hill, to where Nordic Drive runs along Wrangell Narrows and the residential area with its pocket parks comes almost to the water.  A murder of crows gathered on the phone lines.  A bald eagle glided across the water.  Gulls gathered on the intertidal by the thousand.

I thought about drama, irony, contrast, and meaning, and how context makes all the difference.

Tomorrow we’ll start winding this trip up.