The Salmon Killers - Part I
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.
Bob Lawless, Port Ludlow, WA
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
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.
Lighter Side Archive