A Tangential Fishing Trip. May 30, 2011.
31 December 1969 | posted in Ketchikan
Photo: Steve with a bucket of rock fish.
This post is for my cousin Ben Knaupp.
“I’m sure you catch lots of fish,” Ben told me. “I can’t go fishing because I’m raising my family but I love to read about it.” What Ben doesn’t realize is that few people are as good as fishing as the Knaupps. His father, Paul, once took Steve and me fishing for mackerel in Maine. We had been trying for a week to catch mackerel with no luck. Paul knew exactly where to go and what to do with the lines. In a couple of hours we brought back 90 mackerel, enough to fill the bottom of my grandmother’s peapod.
But we do like to fish and although we only buy one license (for Steve), if there are any fish at all, one person can easily catch enough for two. On this trip, we had been too intent on putting miles behind us to fish until we decided to anchor at Tangent Island. In 2006 we’d stopped there on our way south and had caught several good size rockfish and a trapful of crabs. So memorable was the event that Steve had marked our anchorage on the chart plotter with a bright red crab instead of the usual anchor symbol.
We motored north in a flat calm up Principe Channel to Petrel Channel where we turned up narrow Ala Passage, winding our way around Anger Island as snow-capped mountains looked down on us. We rounded Logarithm Point to anchor in a small cove on Tangent
Island. Just around the corner are Cosine, Sine and Azimuth Islands -- all the functions you need for celestial navigation.
Steve loaded the dinghy with fishing pole, buckets, tackle-box and fish-bonker and headed out. A rock in the channel where the water depth dropped off steeply looked like a likely spot for some rockfish.
I decided that if Steve was going to fish, then I was going to paddle my kayak. I figured I had plenty of time to inflate it and take a paddle before he returned. But I had just pumped up the floor and started on the first chamber, when the radio crackled. “I’ve got enough for dinner, breakfast and the crab pot too!” he said. (And enough for a treat for Jigger he should have added.)
Blackened rockfish, so fresh it curled up in the frying pan was what we had for dinner that night, although not before I finished pumping up the kayak and taking my first paddle along Tangent Island. The island is sold rock, covered with a layer of moss on which cedar trees barely cling to life. I paddled in and out of nooks and crannies, at one point paddling over a field of about 50 multi-armed starfish.
We weren’t so lucky with crab. The next morning the trap came up empty. But then, we aren’t Knaupps.