Monday, April 07, 2008

Reeling


W WIND 5 TO 10 KT. WIND WAVES 1 FOOT. W SWELL 13 FT AT 12 SECONDS.
Or spooling...
Whatever it takes.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Aw man...seeing that spool sure brings back some memories for me...growing up in a beach front house I was always out in the mornings before school to see what had washed up during the night..must'a found a hundred of those things over the years..never really found much practical use for'em until I got a little older though...one year it just hit me that, with all the washed in crab pot lines I'd collected, that I could make a rig out of beachcombed materials that could be put to good use. So, one day I rolled a recently found spool back to our beach front property and wrestled it up the foredune into the tall grass...then I dug two postholes about five feet deep and just a little more than the width of the spool apart and set some pretty hefty 10-12 inch logs in....then, sawed off the tops so they'd be even with each other and cut a deeep V notch in the top of each. Got a short piece of 2 plus inch of iron pipe to serve as a shaft, then mounted that spool up on the stanchions. It was sturdy and heavy duty, alright, and spun pretty easy empty, but I wondered how it would work full. I had tons of line, I mean a lot of it-several hundred fathoms worth for sure. And during the winter more could easily be had and spliced onto the others and spooled on. Once in awhile someone would come along on a beach walk and wonder what I was doing. All they saw was a huge spool of line perched way above the highwater line. I'd tell them it was for getting fire wood-I'd explain to them that if a log I wanted washed in and grounded within a couple of thousand feet of our trail, I could lash on to it when the tides were in my favor and move it a few feet up and over with the lift of every wave that came in. It works, yeah, and no one I remember ever doubted my explanation or prolly had any reason to. But I never pulled or floated one log with it, or told anybody what it was really for, except for a couple of my friends who were in on it, for that matter....for it was the business of the warm summer and early fall dark nights that I was interested in.....

During August and September the weather, tidal and surf conditions were best for what I put it to use for. There was fish out beyond that surf that time of year. Big salmon. Salmon cruising up and down the beach waiting for the call to head into the rivers and make the fall run. Not just Salmon, either, but also various other kinds of tastey seafood that was valuable. That is what I was after and that is what I got....

I had a few shackles of shallow gillnets-30 to 50 fathoms long-twelve feet in depth- 6 1/4" mesh. Each was kept in a gunny sack and easy for one man to carry.. When the surf was non existant or close to it and the tides were right for maximum soak time-all was ready. What was best was an even or runout tide with slack low water right at or within 90 minutes of sundown and the required amount of covering darkness. When those nights came, the nets would be packed down to the beach. Once it was good and dark and we were sure the beach was deserted of beachwalkers the work began. The end of the line on the spool was taken in hand and I'd walk due west dragging that line as it came easy off the spool. The lower the tide, the more line it took to get to the water's edge but that was good and I had plenty of crabline on that thing. I imagine sometimes it was an easy 300 yards or more on big runnouts. Then the gunny sacks were taken down, the nets carefully debagged, and snapped shackled together to make one net out of three pieces with a combined length of nearly 100 fathoms. Then with one hand on the end of the corkline tow line, and the other with a six foot piece of one inch waterpipe, into the surf I'd go dragging the net behind me. When I'd get a little more than waist deep, and hopefully up on a sandbar, I'd sink that piece of pipe as far down as I could in the soft sand. I'd already secured a loop on the high end of it and too that was attached about three feet of pretty stout twine. Stout enough whereas the gently surging surf and current couldnt break it, but weak enough so that one or two men giving it a sharp pull would break it easily. The towline on the seaward end of the corkline was clipped to the breaking strap and then I'd wade back to shore. On an even tide perhaps one third of the net was in the water when set, the rest of it high and dry at the water's edge. But not for long. The flood of the tide would soon get it floating and at half the flood she was all out there beyond the surfline. So with the end in the ocean secured and the end on the beach secured above the high tide line, that net had no chance of washing in, out, or away. It just stayed there and at full highwater it was way out there-all that could be seen from the beach was tight crabline leading out into the surf. We were set gillnetting the ocean and it worked perfectly. Never had one bust loose or get away except for once when the surf was too big for the breaking strap-but I was there right when it happened and hauled it back no problem....

..the longer it would soak the better-never did it unless I got the full flood, either, and sometimes let it go longer. Regardless, always had to start getting it in an hour before daylight at the least. Didnt wanna be seen doing that shit in the daylight, no way. So before the sun was up, regardless of the tide, we were down there pulling the gear back up on the beach and picking out the catch-bagging it, then disconnecting the shackles and stuffing the nets back in the sacks and hauling it all back up the trail to the cover of the pines-the line was wound back up on the spool and when the beachwalkers came out for their morning strolls they would see nothing of the night business except some foot prints which meant nothing to them.

Sometimes I was really amazed at how much seafood poundage could be collected doing that. It was great. Never got skunked and sometimes really did well. I dont know how many salmon, flounders, Red Tails, Pogies I hauled off of there but it was a lot to carry. And crab? Jesus, somethimes we'd take hundreds of Dungeness Crab out of that net when they were around. And they were around a lot that time of year.... The rest of the morning was spent butchering, filleting fish-and cooking and picking the crab. Sometimes we'd get so much crab it would take most of the day to get it squared away, but it was worth it. Since crabbing is closed officially then fresh crabmeat brought a good price at the back doors of the restaurants my friends owned and ran. The salmon sold well, too. Cheaper than they could get it from the distributers and a hell'vua lot fresher. The restaurant people loved me. We had an understanding that was profitable for both of us. We never even came close to getting caught by Johnny Law-on the beach or at the kitchen door. A warm Indian Summer's night spent on the beach generally put a couple of hundred illgotten dollars or more in my pocket. It was happy times all the way around.
I loved Gearhart back then...you could get away with murder.

Anonymous said...

what a great yarn!

riverjetty said...

You had me scared there for a minute. Thought you were gonna steal wood.