My kids both like to fish. But my older daughter is pretty much just a smaller (much cuter...) version of me, including her love of fishing. I've never woken her up and had her say she didn't want to go. Even at 2 or 3 in the morning. Not really necessarily normal for a 10 year old. But I was planning a trip a few weeks ago for myself and decided it was probably time to oficially initiate her into the club, and see if she could hack it. So I arranged 3 days of nothing but driving, fishing, driving to more fishing, and more fishing etc. Her little sister got a pass on this trip, since it would for sure be too much for her; and her mom took her for pedicures while we were gone, so she was happy!
Anyway, we hit the road Friday afternoon and headed towards saltier (more species rich) water. There's enough new (to me) stuff still in Puget Sound that I can usually pick a new pier that I haven't been to yet and end up with one or two new things per day. So we ended up fishing for the evening at the Dash Point fishing pier north of Tacoma. Nothing new was caught for me unfortunately, but for the kid it was all new, so she loved it! We walked passed all the people casting for pink salmon and pulled out the bait hooks since that's how you catch the good stuff! And we never saw any pinks caught that night anyway.
Shiner perch and staghorn sculpin were ubiquitous as always:
I've been trying for a starry flounder for years now to no avail. And I still didn't get one, but I did get one flatfish. I tried long and hard to decide if this rock sole was anything new or exotic, but it's just a rock sole as far as I can tell. Nerdy note: It's not lost on me that rock sole and northern rock sole are two separate species, both of which are found in Puget Sound, but from my pictures, I can't distinguish between the two, so it's going to stay just a plain ol' rock sole unless anybody else has any revelatory insights they'd like to share. At least it was a new PB for me if not a new species.
We also got a ratfish just before the sun went down. I've only caught these on one other trip, so it was pretty awesome to see another one, and I'd never seen one caught in the daytime before either!
These are still the single weirdest fish I've ever seen. I've noted their forehead clasper before (which has spikes on it by the way), but I didn't notice the large claspers by the pelvic fins before. Or maybe this one just had huge ones... Whatever the case, this one's looked like a couple pairs of hind-legs dangling there!
The kid was hoping for a dogfish, and I thought we might get one as evening approached, but it wasn't to be. We fished till dark and packed it up and headed to the hotel for about 4 hours of sleep.
Bright and early the next morning we hit the road again in time to be at the dock at Westport by 5:30. The kid hadn't ever been out on the ocean before so it was all new and exciting, and I was anxious to see if she'd get seasick. We both had on those little sea sickness behind-the-ear patches, but you never know, especially with kids. Sure enough about 5 minutes past the jetty, the first dude started chumming for us. I was sure she'd join him at the rail, but she just chuckled and said that was gross!
We made it out to the fishing grounds and dropped our gear down 300 feet and soon began catching Yellowtail Rockfish, often two at a time! The kid's arms were pretty worn out after a few of these, but she hung in there like a champ.
She brought in this double all by herself:
Things got a little interesting for a while. I hooked a small fish just a few feet from the surface and began to reel it in. At about that same time I hear a guy say he's hooked a shark. I've wanted a blue shark for years since I first saw them out there on a tuna fishing trip. So the guy reels it in. Turns out it wasn't even hooked, just holding onto his rockfish. I managed to snap a quick picture just as it let go.
So in the meantime, I've also pulled up my little fish, which turned out to be a Pacific Mackerel (a new one!). We're on a party-boat style trip, so they're all about putting meat on the deck. Which means if it's not a rockfish or a lingcod, they want nothing to do with it. They've got no interest in catching sharks whatsoever. Trust me I asked... I went into this fiasco knowing that was the case so I can't complain. So anyway, I quickly snap a picture of the mackerel, then all sneaky ninja style, while the deckhand's back was turned, re-hook it and nonchalantly send it back over the rail.
Knowing there was a shark nearby, I just let it swim around, acting all casual. Pretty soon my rod doubled over! No way! I'd actually get a chance at the blue!
Unfortunately I set the hook and it was gone. Then the captain figured out what I was doing and the gig was up. We had a good chuckle about it. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted lol
We resumed our rockfish chasing. I don't know how many we caught, but it was a bunch. On my last haul of the day from 300 feet down, I knew I had something heavier on the line. I was both super excited and a little bummed to see my biggest Yelloweye Rockfish ever pop up to the surface. On one hand, it was an awesome fish, but on the other hand, it had barotrauma like nobody's business, and I'd be very surprised if it lived, even with the captain's deep release mechanism. These can't be kept in Washington, since they're very long lived and prone to overharvest. Beautiful fish though!
We finished rockfishing, and then began "lingcod" fishing. I've been lingcod fishing since my early teens, so I'm pretty skeptical that that's what we were actually doing... We sent down some frozen herring and waited. Nobody got snagged up and the only fish anybody caught was a nice Petrale Sole (which I was of course immensely jealous of). But anyway, I wasn't super surprised that nobody caught any lingcod over that sandy bottom "lingcod spot". Not complaining, just making observations... The trip was still super fun. And more importantly the kid had a blast and never even got the least bit queasy!
That was it for day 2. We drove inland to a friend's house for the night and got ready for our day 3 shenanigans. Our target: our first lake trout!
We met another buddy at his house and jumped in with him and soon launched his boat on a nearby lake, sent down the downriggers, and began trolling. I can't think of any witty quips to liven up this part of the story, so maybe insert your own joke here if you like...
Anyway, long story short, we both ended up getting our first lakers! They were by no means large lakers, but I by no means cared either. I was just happy to finally add that one to the list!
She was pretty sleepy by this point, but just the fact that she's still smiling after 3 long days of literally nothing but running and gunning, is good enough for me. She's in the club as far as I'm concerned, even if she was concerned that her hair was messy in this picture!