July 10 – Heading Up Smith Inlet
I awoke to spitting showers at 7 a.m. and rushed out to put the tarp over my tent since it leaks after several hours of rain and I didn’t know how long this would last.
I sat in my tent, bummed out listening to the steady rain and the drone from the poachers, until 11 a.m., but I stayed fairly dry inside. When it finally ended I came out for breakfast. The poachers were still at it.
I headed east, following the southern shoreline of the inlet, past hundreds of waterfalls of varying sizes tumbling down into the water. I filled my bottles. There were lots of little salmon along the shoreline, and they especially liked the places where sizeable streams entered. I stopped at one creek and had my floating lunch in the muggy heat — a Clif bar, dates, and peanut butter.
I dawdled along, as I only had 12 km to go in total to the forestry dock where I was sure there would be somewhere to camp. The water was flat and I had a slight tailwind.
A float plane went by as it flew up the inlet heading east. I figured it was going to the grizzly lodge, where I was also going. I hoped they took a photo of me, which would put my size into perspective. I’d see them tomorrow.
The tailwind picked up so I moved out into the channel a bit more to take advantage of it.
Within seconds of dropping the hook I caught a fish. I wasn’t going to keep any, I just wanted to see what was down there.
I must have pulled up 10 fish in 15 minutes. It goes to show how prolific marine life can be, away from fishing pressures. That’s what the whole world was like not too long ago. Unfortunately no one from that era is still alive to provide perspective so we plod along generation after generation, accepting more and more degraded ecosystems as “the norm” because we know nothing different. Kind of a like the old story about being able to slowly boil a frog alive but if you throw him straight into hot water he will jump out.
One of the problems with rockfish fishing is that they come up from the deep and the drop in pressure causes their swim bladders to expand out their mouths. Then when they are thrown back they cannot swim back down because they are too buoyant. They get stuck on the surface and either die or get eaten by birds. The bycatch is very unfortunate. What we need, and some people are working on this, is a method to send the fish down to the deep on a weight, at which point their swim bladders will compress back down. Then they are released and can continue living and spawning for future generations. Unfortunately this is not used commercially. My hook went down to about 60 feet and they had no problem swimming back down from the surface. But if they come from 200 feet that is another issue.