Sunday, November 27, 2005

Symphony of Seafood, Ernest Enge - author/fisherman

It's time to throw your new seafood product in the ring for a chance at the prize of taking it to the Boston Seafood Show. Not that you couldn't take your product there on your own nickel anyway. You could even take your product to the big Seafood Show in Belgium, and a dozen other places.

The type of boat my Grandfather and my Uncle fished, starting in about 1916.

But here's the scoop on the application process. And don't forget to run your product through the "12 year old, litmus test." If a 12 year old boy will eat it, it's a good product. If he likes it, you've got a winner and you might as well start looking for a Mercedez Benz to replace that 1969 Ford pick-up.

Just for the halibut, here's an excerpt from the book, "The Good Old Days," by Ernest Enge. Ernest was my uncle and I seemed to have my "firsts" when I was with him: first deer, first fishing tirp. My first trip commercial fishing was a 10 day trip with him. I was about fourteen at the time and got $25 for mostly chopping gurdy bait. Ernest ran the family boat "Augusta" starting in 1946. He had started fishing at an early age with his father Martin, my grandfather and a Petersburg "highliner," as did my father. This is a glimpse of one day in the life of a halibut fisherman in "The Good Old Days."

"Bill Johnson was along this trip. After setting the gear at Yasha Island, a whole fleet of trollers moved around us. With them came a blanket of fog. Soon everything got quiet. The boats were drifting and the men were talking to each other. We heard one fellow holler over, "I think I see land." Having a chain saw aboard, Bill put it on the hatch, started it up, and after a while, hollered out, "Timber." I think every troller boat at Pt. Gardner started their engines up. As I was writing this story, Bill died February 20, 1985."

It really takes the experience of the eerie quiet and disorientation of a fog on a flat calm day in S.E. Alaska to really appreciate the humor in that, I suppose. Ernest was like a lot of the career halibut fishermen who believed that a little humor now and then was a necessary ingredient in the fishing life.

This is one of several books Ernest has written about commercial fishing in Alaska in about the first seventy-five years of the 1900s. He and Gordon Jensen put the first steel fishing boats in the Petersburg fleet. Ernest was diagnosed with M.S. the next year and had to lease out the boat from then on. But just before building the Martina, he skippered the Sparrow Castle for Kayler-Dahl Fish Co. to prospect for king crab in S.E. Alaska.

That must have been the fall of '66, because I was on the tender "Laddie" that summer and we followed the brand new steel Sparrow Castle around awhile that summer. That was the first steel boat I had been around and it was a real thrill at the time. The next time I saw the Sparrow Castle it was in Dutch Harbor and Bob Bark had it. Other boats I crewed on ended up longlining out of Dutch Harbor too. The "Miss Norma," that used to belong to Audy Mathiesen, and the "Nakat," that had belonged to Steve Enge, my brother.


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