Lighter Side

What is life if there is not laughter? Welcome to the lighter side of flyfishing! We welcome your stories here!
February 10th, 2003

The Salmon Killers - Part I
Bob Lawless, Port Ludlow, WA

This will be a long and hopefully educational essay on the Salmon Killers, those men and women who have risked their lives so that people could enjoy the wonderful taste of salmon and so that they, the killers, could earn a living.

I have much to say here and some of it will just be my opinion, which I hope will be an informed opinion, but most of it will be just a true account of what I experienced during my own life as a Salmon Killer, a career that lasted for twelve years.

A bit of background: as a boy I caught fish to feed my mother and my two brothers as well as my little sister when we lived in two abandoned mining cabins above Idaho Springs, Colorado. We had zero money and my father received $18.50 per week as an unemployed person, recently from Phoenix, Ariz., but spent most of his life in upstate New York where I was born in 1937. He lived in Denver, looking for work, and he would send us a money order from time to time. From the cabins at St. Mary's Glacier to town was 14 miles. We hooked rides to get there and often walked back "home" lugging the groceries if we were lucky enough to get a money order. There were many weeks when the trip was for naught.

So the trout, brookies, were a welcome addition to our household table. The trouble was that they lived on private property. So we, my brothers and I, poached them. There was no thought of right or wrong; we were just hungry, and so we stole them. Maybe these were my first commercial days. There followed forty years or so of honing my skills as a fisherman. I used flies out of laziness because they would catch fish after fish without having to dig worms. Flies were deadly. I learned that early on.

Then, in Northern California, I became a big time sport troller. Catching all I could eat and giving away to the neighbors all I could, I didn't have a clue as to the impact I was having on the environment (this was a word virtually unknown at the time). I wanted fun and that was what fish, ducks, geese etc. were for; something for me to enjoy.

Commercial fishing licenses cost $20.00 and I was encouraged to get one and then I would never have to worry about limits again. I would have no limit.

Starting in a sixteen-foot boat with hand gurdies, I started to fish one summer at Crescent City, CA. during the school vacation period. I was a teacher; psychology was my field. I had June, July, and August to fish. These are the best months for the Salmon Killers. The fish are taking on weight at an unbelievable rate and are ready to strike at most anything.

My first day out as an SK (Salmon Killer), I caught about 10 or 12 bright silvers (ocean fish are always bright and at their peak of flavor) which I sold for about $100.00. I couldn't believe it. I had had fun and yet I had pocketed a C note.

Why didn't I think of this before. I needed money. I loved fishing. Can anything be better than this? And so it went until I purchased a 24ft. Oregon dory, made of aluminum, which cost me about $16,500. I called her the "Laura J." "Laura" after my only child and "J" because my wife's name is Janet. That boat has repaid for herself over and over again. With her, I became a real SK and somedays I made a thousand dollars. But more of this in the next part.

Stay tuned; there will be lots of good stuff here, no jokes, only the truth as best as I can relate it. ~ BOBLAWLESS

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