Wednesday, February 24, 2016

My life as a commercial fisherman...Part l

I recently had a flashback memory of something that I had long forgotten about.  In 1968, fresh from flunking out of college due to wine, women and song or more appropriately, beer, women and fishing, I was forced to once again return to the home I had left the previous fall.

A commercial fishing vessel
Suffice it to say that my two main concerns at the time were to 1, get out of my parent’s house as quickly as I could and 2, stay out of Vietnam.  Not necessarily in that order.  I had the brilliant idea that instead of running away and joining the circus that I would like to work on a commercial fishing boat.   The idea fermented in my head for several months while I sweated out my recent draft notice which my dad referred to as “my dues for being a fool in college.”

Due to my inability to pass the military physical, my second rejection by the “establishment”, I put my plan into action to join a commercial fishing venture.  My father, born and raised in Chicago on the banks of mighty Lake Michigan had connections and arrangements were made for this 19 year old kid from the Rockies to travel east.
Uniform of a commercial fisherman

Having spent some time fishing in the Rockies both on foot and in a boat, I felt prepared.  Little did I know. Upon arrival I checked into a -3 star hotel arranged by well-to-do relatives. Don’t ever trust well-to-do relatives. 

The following morning I was picked up in a long shiny black limo and dumped unceremoniously at one of many docks along the lake.  This particular one called Shining Star was replete with people that looked like Popeye and Bluto and a smell that was slightly reminiscent of my mother cooking halibut-a smell that never quite went away.

I heard my name called and looked up to see a gangling, bearded older man standing on what I thought was surely a garbage scow motioning me over.   Stepping on board the scow, the man pumped my hand and introduced himself as Cap.  Standing behind Cap were three “gentlemen” introduced as Red, Gimp and Sawhand. 

Great Lakes White Fish
In short order, I received my first three lessons about commercial fishing.   The scow I stood upon was my boat not a garbage scow, none of the crew had real names and its best not to ask why and we would be fishing for three days for whitefish and/or herring. 

Stay tuned for part II.
Great Lakes Herring

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