Posts Tagged ‘ling cod’

Fisherfolk and forest fires.

July 20, 2017

If you can’t take the fire, stay out of the smoke

The stuff that makes you wheeze, cough and choke

This great conflagration

Caused evacuation

And perhaps even brought on a stroke.

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.

I had call this last Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and I’m on call again tonight, Wednesday. Over the weekend I saw so many people with possible or definite stroke that my neurologic exam, thorough but a bit rusty on Friday, was polished and speedy by Monday morning.

I have had to do suturing at least once a day for the last week. I do not anticipate robots taking over this part of my job in my lifetime; especially if children are involved.

Stitching people up brings the opportunity to just chat with the patient, and I got the chance to pick the brains of a couple of really expert fisherfolk. The lakes around here hold some lake trout, ling cod, bull trout, and Dolley Varden.  One person I talked to has never come back without a fish, and more than one told me about great spots to catch 28 pounders.  Of course we call fishing stories just that for a reason.  Still, after I bandage the wound, the cell phones come out and the photos of the fish have been very impressive.  The most common, and the most successful bait around here seems to be bacon.

Every morning and evening, when I enter and exit the hotel, I see the crews that stay here, too. Of course I expect the seasonal workers: the rail crews, pipeline workers, tree planters, and such.  But now I see firefighters rotating off the line, and I have attended a few in the clinic.

Today the raging forest fires brought in the first of what I anticipate will be a long series of people with respiratory problems. Those numbers might take a while to ramp up, but lungs show an acute phase inflammation, over the first few hours to days, and a longer term late phase inflammation that lasts 6 weeks.

The area doesn’t have many roads, and the fires have cut off evacuation routes south. Last week, at the town’s only thrift store (staffed by hospital auxiliary volunteers), Bethany ran into a family who had to flee the fires.



Returning to Barrow

January 17, 2011

This trip is a bit of a lark,

Not exactly a walk in the park

     Where the polar winds blow,

     Making blizzards from snow,

Up north, where it’s cold and it’s dark.

Our friends gave us a going away party Friday night, or maybe we gave them a party; either way we had a great dinner.

It was an extension of our Friday night potlucks, which will continue in our absence.  With an original head count of nine for sure and four maybes, I made a boeuf burguignon. 

Having seen the movie, Julie and Julia, I picked up two tips for the recipe: dry the beef on paper towel before putting it in to brown, and don’t crowd the mushrooms in the pan.  From the net I learned to make a roux to thicken it. 

While constructing the main dish, I put together guacamole, using six avocados and four fresh roasted Poblano peppers.  I thawed out the fillet from Bethany’s huge ling cod, caught last August during our dream fishing trip on Alaska’s Prince William Sound.

Head counts at potlucks run notoriously inaccurate till the last-minute.  Eventually, twenty-one guests arrived, and as always, we had too much food:  fresh-baked challah, green salad, squash and asparagus salad, cut fruit, sweet potato casserole, chips, salsa, noodles, angel food cake with strawberries, bread, beef and fish.

The conversation didn’t stop with the eating; clean up continued after the meal.  Three of us sipped at Crown Royal while we washed and dried dishes and put away leftovers.  I distributed the rest of the cod to people who promised to cook and eat it within twenty-four hours.  Our last guests left about 10:30, and Bethany and I rolled into bed, congratulating ourselves on a first-class dinner.

I hadn’t finished packing, but our schedule was flexible enough to permit items be put into luggage in the morning.  At the last minute we remembered to bring exercise bands, a portable telephone for the landline, my electronic tuner, batteries, books, and CDs. 

John, our good friend, will be house sitting while we’re gone.  (He has a fifth degree black belt and he knows how to shoot.)

As I write, Bethany and I are en route to Alaska for a winter adventure, back to Barrow for the end of the sixty-three day Arctic night.  She plans to work as a substitute teacher and I’ll be back working at the hospital.

We stayed in Anchorage Saturday night and Sunday, visiting our friends Les and Beth, whom we’ve known since Wyoming.  Les and I discussed the fine points of vitamin D, calcium, and phosphorus metabolism, along with genetics, skin color, and astronomy, in relation to one of his current pediatrics cases.  We fried potato pancakes (latkes) and ate salmon we caught in August and had smoked. 

Later, the group enlarged, the erudition base broadened, and the discussion ran from the Constitution to free trade (as defined in 1775), free trade (as defined in 2011), economics, the gold and silver standard, the process of Constitutional amendments, the price of manufactured goods, the Swedish Empire, freedom of religion, and excesses of monarchs.

Capsized in Prince William Sound

August 10, 2010

We caught our limit of fish

It was everything that we could wish

     But we lost a rod

     After a fine black rock cod

And we ate a halibut dish

Four things went into Prince William Sound today, two objects and two people.

Lee is a remarkable man who has mastered the Zen of fishing; he is the skipper of the thirty-four foot boat we’ve taken out after halibut, ling cod, rock fish, cod, salmon, and shrimp.  He knows the places to go, he knows what the fish eat and how deep they are.  He had a beautiful fillet knife, custom-made by a prominent Alaska knife maker, serial number 1 of 250.  It was last seen sinking into seventy fathoms of water.

We started with a minimum of poles.  We had plenty of other tackle.  Two of the rods were good for salmon, rock fish, and ling cod; the other two rods were very heavy-duty and were for halibut.  In essence, because the location and strategy for halibut is so different from the others, we could only have two people fishing at once.  Which was OK till one of the rods went over the side and straight into 70 fathoms of water. 

It didn’t keep our party of four from limiting out on silver salmon, catching four black rock fish, throwing back two ling cod that didn’t quite meet the 35 inch limit, and bringing in a halibut weighing about twenty-five pounds.

There was also an immature silver salmon I caught, not much bigger than the bait fish, about 9 inches long.  I made the comment that it was bigger than the vast majority of fish I’d caught up till now.

Six years ago Les left a plastic container with ten gallons of gasoline on a charming, small island in Prince William Sound.  After we lost the rod we decided to come in early to process fish and to take showers and get more poles, and because we were in the neighborhood, Les decided to retrieve the gas can.  He rowed the dinghy up to the island, with me on board.

I’m not nautical at all.  I still say things like “downstairs” instead of “below decks.”  Les, however, is very nautical and maintains a keen sense of what should happen on the water or in small craft.  He is patient with me, instructed me where to sit in the row-boat, and how to keep my center of gravity low.  He rowed up out to the island, telling of seeing an orca pass right between two islands while he was eating lunch. 

Getting out of the dinghy was easy, I found the island charming as advertised, and I picked up trash/flotsam while he retrieved the gas can.  He loaded it with care into the dinghy and I sat up forward for the row back. 

But we didn’t quite clear the beach before Les and I dumped into about a foot of water.  By then the sun was out and we were warm enough.  We came up sputtering and laughing, and launched back to the Nanny Kay.

Firsts for this trip:  rod and reel on salt water, getting sea legs, bringing in a halibut the size of my dinner table, tasting fresh salmon roe, limiting out on salmon, catching a black rock cod, falling out of a boat.

Yes, I had my life jacket on.

The big fish that didn’t get away.

August 9, 2010

I really don’t know what to say

At the end of a great fishing day

     I learned how to feel

     With my line, rod, and reel,

So the big ones don’t get away.

We’re back in Anchorage after five days fishing on Prince William Sound, made famous during Exxon Valdez oil spill.

One day of fishing will generate more stories than can be recounted in 1000 words; we had adventures enough for a volume.  But blogging demands brevity.

Prince William Sound was formed when the sea flooded a river valley cut by glaciers.  With frequent weather changes, shifting dense overcasts, sudden fogs and squalls, its beauty is intense but brooding and sullen.

Our skipper, Lee, grew up during the same turbulent times I did.  He started as a fishing guide with his own boat at age fifteen.  He had a long, successful career as a marine diesel mechanic, and graduated to paralegal seventeen years ago.  He describes himself as a farm boy, but when he talks about the law his erudition shines through. 

Lee knows the location of the fish and their dietary preferences, their psychology, size, and habits.  He can tell if bait remains after a nibble on three hundred feet of line.  He knows by looking at the end of the rod if the fish on the line is halibut, ling cod, salmon or rock fish, and can tell you the size.

He has a mystic connection to the fish; one morning he caught three black rock fish in the time it took me to put on my boots.  He was very patient with Bethany and me.  The first day I couldn’t tell a nibble from a bite, and I didn’t know how to set the hook properly; I lost more fish than I landed.

On day one, the silver salmon came, bit leisurely and followed the line to the boat docilely, after that they jumped and spun and ran and fought.

Bethany caught a forty-two inch ling cod the second day.

The 37 foot cabin cruiser was manufactured in 1978, and was not well maintained by the owner who sold it to Lee’s friend, who now wants to sell it.  Lee can fix anything on the boat.

Inside, the comfortable craft sleeps six, has a 3 burner stove, a serviceable head, but no working shower.

Bethany has had problems with motion sickness.  She used the patch behind her ear, and it worked well for her.  I didn’t have a problem with seasickness; to my surprise I found the rocking motion of the boat soothing and promoting of a good night’s sleep.

Fishing on Prince William Sound

We’ve been talking for years about going on a cruise, but Bethany was hesitant because of the seasickness issue.  We can now start making actual plans.

After five days I was baiting my own hook and I could identify the fish before it surfaced.  Very early on I more than doubled my lifetime biomass catch of fish when I pulled up halibut the size of my dinner table (fifty inches, no exaggeration). 

I threw back more fish on this trip than I’d caught in my entire life previously.  Kelp greenling turn to mush when cooked, as do saber-toothed flounder.  The flounder that I caught, microscopic in comparison to the halibut, wasn’t worth cleaning.  Pink, or chum salmon, don’t taste nearly as good as the silver salmon.

Golden eye rock fish look like a kabuki nightmare.  They flare their gills and poisonous spines when brought to surface; their disproportionately large eyes bug out of their blaze orange heads.

While jigging just off the bottom for rock fish one day I hooked something of enormous weight and reeled in a ling cod a few inches shy of the 35 inch minimum, and threw him back.

The big ones didn’t get away this trip.