Almost Fogged Out


The phone rings. It’s the captain. “I’ll pick you up in a half hour.” That gives me plenty of time to ready for what might the last salmon hunt of the year. As I pack, I think of the guy at Tee Harbor who said, “Tomorrow should be sunny and flat calm, lots of fish.” Today’s marine forecast gives further cause for optimism. It calls for calm winds and sun after the fog burns off at 10 a.m. I buy three trays of herring, instead of the usual two at Foodland when the captain stops there for supplies.


Fog obscures most of Tee Harbor as the captain and I load the boat. We mount the downriggers, ready the fishing poles, and set the herring to soaking, sure that the fog is about to lift. As I bend down to unclip the bow line a couple walks by. One of them says that they are heading home with plans to fish on a day without fog. An hour later, a red Lund skiff emerges from the fog driven by a standing man with the look of an escapee from tragedy. The captain still reverses his old Sea Dory from the mooring and motors us slowing into the thin white wall.


We find clear skies and sunshine at the mouth of Tee Harbor but fog still obscures most of Favorite Passage. It even covers half of the nearby Aaron Island, where we once caught a brace of silvers just after Dall Porpoise swan under and around the Sea Dory. We find neither fish nor porpoise during the hours we troll around Aaron. But the fog’s slow reveal of sun on nearby islands, mountains and glaciers entertains us during the wait. So did a large raft of scoters and a pair of oystercatchers that flew laps around our boat.


Finally, the fog lifts enough for us to cross the channel without getting crushed by a whale watching boat. But it still clogs the upper opening of the North Pass, where there should be salmon. We wait for more clearing. When it comes, and we can finally fish the pass, we have little luck. One whale breaks water near our boat, then makes its tail a black silhouette on the painfully-bright sea. A sea lion follows us, snatching each herring that we removed from our hooks when we change bait. Eventually, as a wall of storm clouds builds over the Chilkat Range, the captain catches a male silver salmon. But the wind, that had helped to blow away the fog, is already raising waves in the pass. Its time to start the bumpy ride back to the harbor.

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