On Friday last week someone from work posted that they were looking for a buddy to go dip netting with on Sunday. After much hemming and hawing I decided I would go, and so did another one of my co-workers.
We got up bright and early Sunday morning and headed down the Kenai with high hopes (but relatively low expectations). When we got there it was beautiful and sunny (despite the forecast being for rain) and there weren't very many people on the beach. This was a huge plus considering just a week or two earlier there were so many people fishing that there was overflow parking for the overflow parking.
It's a good thing we brought Maile along because she started this fire from nothing (she literally threw a pile of wood that was sitting on the beach into a small pit that was barely still smoking, and had a raging fire in no time)!
We stood around for a while and assessed the fishing situation. Once we saw three people in a row catch fish, we got ready and started fishing. We fished for an hour or so with not very much luck. At one point the people on both sides of us were catching fish, but we were getting nothing. We decided to take a little break and have a snack. Then all of a sudden (as is usually the case) we saw 10 or so people catch fish all at the same time and then it was time to get back to work! I think it was just after high tide, as the tide started to turn and go out. We chose a new spot since our original spot was obviously some kind of fish void.
Dip netting is a ton of work, but super fun when the fishing is good. It was definitely good for a couple of hours. We'd get in, wait a few minutes, catch a fish, run out of the water (I don't know that the running is a requirement, but I was claiming it as training time, so I ran), whack your fish, put it in the cooler, and hurry back in for another round. We ended up with two small coolers full of fish before we realized that we still had a lot of work ahead of us. Kudos to Maile for heading and gutting fish (to make more room in the cooler) while Craig and I kept fishing.
We ended up with 36 fish, which we split between the three of us. After cleaning all the fish, we had to haul the coolers up the beach to where we could load them into the car. That was probably the worst part. We were tired, hungry, and thirsty, and ready to just be done, but then we had to haul two heavy coolers 1/2 mile up the beach! We stopped for food on the way out of town and finally hit the road around 9pm. That meant that we weren't going to make it back to town until after 11:30pm...and I had to work the next day!
When we got home we split up the fish and then I headed to my house. I had to lift my giant cooler full of fish and ice out of the back of my car by myself...I'm not sure how I did it. It was most likely an act of desperation.
John had explicit instructions to start filleting fish when he got home on Monday afternoon (because I was working). He had a long weekend as well, so I'm glad he was up to the challenge. I might have cried if I was faced with this upon getting home from work.
(That's the biggest cooler you can buy from Costco if you need a little perspective) 12 fish might not seem like much, but it is...especially if you are already tired, and most of them were rather large...
Luckily, I got to come home from work early (probably better for everyone since I was so tired I kept starting to do things and then forgetting what I was doing in the middle of going to do it...don't worry, I was not in charge of taking care any patients while I was doing silly things) and take a nap. I woke up from my nap to this...
For the record, I did help out after my nap. I vacuum packed while John filleted. I was so ridiculously sore (mostly from hauling coolers I think) and have acquired a few extra bruises (I usually have at least three bruises on my body at any given time), but I think it was worth it.
We are now drowning in fish (as in we can't put anything in our freezer until we eat some), which is not a bad place to be. Also, I'll be taking submissions for fish recipes if you have any gems!