By Jan Hrutfiord
The harbor is pretty quiet right now, no major fishing going on during the month of July. The local draggers are fishing for bottom fish in Puget Sound, and the bigger draggers are fishing off the coast of Washington, most bringing in their fish to K-C Fish Co, (formerly Sea-K Fish).
Salmon boats - both gillnetters and seiners - are getting ready for the summer season, which usually starts the end of July or early in August. Nets are being repaired or hung, crews hired, and markets found for the fish once it is caught. There are many fewer boats this year than ever before, due to the buy-backs of licenses, and the lack of fish that could be caught. We shall have to see what this season brings.
Crab buyers are getting ready to start buying from Indian crabbers, who usually start fishing in August. They have several fishing openings during the months of August and September before the non-Indian fishers start fishing October 1.
Many local fishers have been fishing for salmon in Bristol Bay, Alaska. The season there is almost over and some fishers will be arriving home again this week. The word I’ve gotten is that fishing has been better than the last few years, but not by a great amount as the run didn’t amount to the total forecast for the region. They fished from several different small towns and/or canneries, in Naknek, Ugashik, Nunamak and Egegik. I do love those names!
They are or were small native villages, with the population growing by thousands for the few weeks of the salmon season. There are few amenities in these villages, most provided by the canneries which ship in supplies and personnel to run the canneries and supply their fishers for the six to eight weeks of the season. Other than that, there may be only one or two telephones in the entire village, a grocery store that may be open one or two days a week, and definitely makes Blaine look like a metropolis. It is a completely different way of life for our local fishers.
We certainly miss the Harbor Cafe, which closed abruptly last month. The loss of this long-time cafe has been a blow to those working here in the harbor, with no place down here for a quick lunch, coffee, or a place to hang out. A steady stream of customers have been surprised to find the doors closed, and the famous fish and chips and clam chowder is definitely missed.
The Westman Shipyard has been busy with renovating many fishing boats before the summer season, and also has a different project on the ways - a used landing craft which is being restored to be used for a freight hauler between the San Juan Islands. The last time I saw this vessel, it was cut in half, and 20 feet will be added in length to the boat. An ambitious project, which someone found to be the answer to the needs of those living out in the islands.
The Seafarers’ Memorial building has been steadily upgraded, with a new paint job, and a large porthole donated and installed by Norm Walsh. He also donated an antique brass ships wheel, which has been cemented in place by Dennis McGee. Dennis also patched up the cement work in the floor of the building. Come see these and other improvements to come in the near future.
It is very pretty down here at the harbor now, with rose bushes blooming, baby geese following their parents to the best feeding and swimming places, and many pleasure boats coming and going, enjoying the season. The Plover is running steadily on Friday, Saturday and Sundays, and that’s a fun way to get a boat trip out of the harbor. Hope to see you down here soon!