Set net lines and mud in the bay

Ginger, my boss asked me what Aaron and I were doing on Friday. I mentioned that I didn’t think we were doing anything so she wanted to know if we would go out to help her and her husband set their lines for their subsistence nets. I said that we would and we might be able to recruit Erin and Anthony to help.

This whole week it has been raining on and off, which means that not only is everything wet and muddy, but it is also a bit chilly out. We head from Ginger’s house in caravan-style down to the beach to Ginger’s claim at about 8:30pm. (It looked more like midday than late evening.) In fact, we had four vehicles: Terry in his truck, Ginger and her daughter Aurora in her truck, me and Aaron and Ayla (Ginger’s foster daughter’s younger sister) in our Canyonero, and Erin and Anthony in their SUV.

We drove down onto the beach, and then along the shore for about a mile until we got to the place where Ginger and Terry had staked their claim. Each family has a sign out at the shore that has their last name or family name on it so people will know where their plot of beach is. There’s no real legal claim to any area of beach, but people fish the same spot every year, so if you steal their spot, they get really upset. (Aaron says there have even been court cases about it.)

Ginger had warned me that it was going to be muddy because they have to look for the ring that they tie the line to out in the bay at low tide, beyond the usual shore line. As it turns out, after the sandy/rocky beach, there is nothing but muck and I don’t have a pair of rainboots so I was wearing my snowboots with the lining out of them. Aaron figured they were water proof so they will work in a pinch. Bad idea.

The boys get started right away with Terry, Ginger’s husband, looking for the ring thing out past the shoreline. Aaron says what they were looking for was an anchor that was buried deep in the beach, with a ring on top to feed the line through. It took a little while of walking up and down the muddy beach, staring at rocks before they spotted it.

Erin, Ginger and I hang out on the beach. I think we were going to start a bonfire, but all the wood was so wet. Erin and I started wondering around on the beach and playing in the creek that fed in to the bay.

Ayla and Aurora went hiking up the grassy clifts with us. Ayla is the short, cute one.

(See, she is just so cute!)

This is Erin and Aurora on top of the grassy cliffs. Erin is one acting a fool.

Meanwhile the boys were hard at work, hammering in the stakes and bringing out the lines to the ring. Two stakes are crossed and pounded into the sand at the top of the beach. Then another two are crossed and sunk in about 50 feet away at the top of the beach. A line runs from one set of stakes down the beach to the ring at the anchor in the muck, then back up the beach to the other set of stakes. Later on, they’ll tie their net to the ropes out in the area where the tide comes in. Then the fish will swim by, get caught in the net, and they can use the pulley system to drag the net up onto the beach.

While they were doing all the stake-pounding and searching for the anchor, I was busy getting stuck in the mud with my snow boots. I fell in to about my knee at one point. Erin had to help pull me out which made the boot, fall down to my ankle. This allowed water to pour in to my boot. So now, I am muddy, I have wet feet and I am stuck between the shore and the water. I decide to head back to shore and take off the cold wet socks. And that is where I stayed until the boys finished up.

(This is when I first sunk in to the mud. It only got worse from there.)

(This is the soaking wet wool sock I was wearing. You might not be able to tell, but the sock was filled with water and it is dripping out which is why it is just hanging off my foot.)

Aaron says the hardest part of the whole procedure was running the lines. He kept getting stuck in the mud. At one point, he had the drag a really long rope through the mud, pulling it through the ring they use as a pulley. Apparently when they have nets attached, they use a truck to pull the ropes, since they’re so heavy. But for setting out the lines without the net, they just sink their feet into the mud and pull.

Overall, it was an interesting experience. We got to learn how the natives and local folks subsistence fish for salmon, and we realized that it definitely isn’t easy work. Ginger has invited us to help them subsistence fish this summer. Sounds like we’ll get to learn how to pull the nets in, clean and gut fish, and hang them to dry. All that and salmon isn’t even one of my favorite fish. Terry may also take Aaron along with him moose hunting this fall. I think Anthony may go too. They certainly proved to Terry that they aren’t afraid to do a little work. If they go moose hunting, they probably won’t be doing the shooting, but Terry wants help carrying the meat out of the woods after he shoots it.

I guess we’re learning how to be locals.