Saturday, September 7, 2013

Shark Attack!


   When most folks think about Alaska, sharks never even come to mind. I'd never heard that there were sharks here until I started commercial fishing some years back. One year I leased the troller Acadia from one of my friend from the farm. It was June and I went up in Port Fredrick to a place just known as the waterfalls, oddly enough because there is a waterfall right there. Anyway, one of the local highliners, Joar Savland, was fishing his boat, the Standy up there. I was still learning the fishing business at the time, so I thought it would be wise to follow behind him a few boat lengths and spy on him with the binoculars, you know, see what he was using, how fast he was trolling and so on. Well, I got distracted somehow, maybe I even had a bite, I don't remember, but anyhow I lost track of him for a bit. When I located him again I noticed a fin circling a ways behind his boat. I thought he had knocked a big King Salmon off his line and it was stunned. I figured that it wasn't worth his while to circle back around and try to gaff it, seeing as how he catches so many fish that one king wouldn't make him or break him. I, on the other hand, needed every fish I could get just to pay for the fuel, much less the boat lease. Being the opportunist that I am, I thought I'd go over and scarf it up.  I approached the fish with gaff in hand, fully anticipating a freebee and chuckling to myself at my uncommon good fortune. My joy was quickly turned to terror when the fin that I thought belonged to a monster King Salmon turned out to be attached to a monster Salmon Shark. The Acadia was about thirty feet long, and I swear, when I looked down at that shark, it seemed to take up half the boat length. I don't know what I thought would happen, if it would attack the boat or what, but in a panic I grabbed a pistol and proceeded to pump six shots into the water directly at it. It didn't budge, so I reloaded and shot six more times. I don't think it ever got hit. It eventually just drifted out of sight and I didn't see it again. The next time I had anything to do with a Salmon Shark was years later when I was on the Bonnie J. The boys and I were out fishing for halibut down near Point Sophia. We were pulling in the line when it started coming in very easily. That's usually a sign that the line has parted. As I reeled it onto the drum I looked back and could see what looked like fins in the distance. I assumed that somehow some stupid sealion had gotten caught up in the gear while trying to steal some fish from my line. Part of me was delighted at the prospect and part of me was worried. If I brought it to the dock there would be all kinds of paper work and endless hours of answering questions. I think murder suspects get less scrutiny than people who have encounters with marine mammals. In any event, when we brought it close enough I could see that it was a large Salmon Shark. It was too big to get on the boat so we put some shark hooks in it and towed it to the cold storage dock. They lifted it with the hoist and weighed and measured it. It was seven feet long and weighed 441 pounds. The next day the elementary school came down to look at it, then the cold storage hauled it to the dump where no doubt the local bear population had a feast.Before they took it away, one of the boys cut the jaw out. It was pretty impressive, I have to admit. Rows of needle sharp teeth. The jaw ended up under my house where eventually the teeth came out and it ceased to be impressive at all and was discarded. My most recent shark encounter was yesterday at Homeshore. I was fishing along, happy as a clam at high tide, catching a few salmon when I had a tremendous hit on the line. I pulled up the gear, and there on the last leader was a huge Coho, or the front half of one at least. As you can see, a shark had a feast with the after portion. Why it took the largest fish that bit all day, I have no idea. I'd caught plenty of smaller Cohos, as well as three Chums, but nooooo... it wanted the big money fish. Go figure. So my friends, let that  be a reminder. Even when you can entice a fish to bite, there's no guarantee that you'll land it. We share this planet with all manner of denizens of the deep, and they're all hungry.

9 comments:

  1. Even if you are in Alaska you don't have to be alone http://www.findasurfbuddy.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks- I'll keep that in mind

    ReplyDelete
  3. Sorry dad, that's just the Botts luck working against you! Neat to see though! Love you.
    ~Autumn~

    ReplyDelete
  4. It is neat to see, too bad it wasn't on someone else's line that I could look at. Damn the luck!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Bummer dad, at least the shark didn't eat all the other fish. I wish I were there to see you shoot at the shark when you first started fishing BHAHAHAHAHA. laughed so hard when I read that. Love you

    ReplyDelete
  6. HI Camille- I sure didn't feel like laughing- either time. Those things are huge, and they're hungry.

    ReplyDelete
  7. sorry dad its the way you described getting your gun and shooting at it that made ma laugh.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Nice post. Correction though on the weight dad...the shark came in at 476 lbs. Thats what I remember. I could be wrong though. I remember slicing it open to see what it was scarfing on and remember the liver ran a long ways. Anyways...I also remember hearing Bunny Lampe yelling from the top of the dock about the shark....was funny as hell. I hung the jaws up above the shed doors and it looked cool for awhile. Until every time I went out to the shed there would be one or two teeth laying on the shed ramp. Then it just looked silly. Take care dad. Ben.

    ReplyDelete
  9. You might be right about the weight Ben. Too bad we didn't do something to keep the teeth in place- maybe a little varnish or something. Yeah, Bunny was pretty shocked at the size of the sharks reproductive organ. That liver was huge too! Seems like a guy could have found a market for it. Oh well. I'm in no rush to have anymore encounters with the sharks.

    ReplyDelete