August 22, 2023
First time cleaning a fish.
On the second day out of Kodiak with the six high school students on board, we cut through the Kodiak archipelago at Whale Pass into Shelikof Strait. It was clear and calm.
Off Raspberry Point the fish finder showed us passing over a bunch of fish around a rock pile about forty feet down. I asked the kids if they wanted to catch dinner. They did. I pulled a U-turn and stopped the boat over the rock pile and got out the rods and the shiny metal jigs.
Instantly, one of the kids had a fish on the line. Then another did. Then another. Everyone had a fish on the line. There was a lot of yelling and laughing and Bella was barking (this dog loves fishing). I was running around with the net bringing the fish in over the rail. Some of the fish were black rockfish; some were bigger, longer, lingcod.
None of these kids had ever caught their own food before. These were wild live creatures coming up out of a clean part of the ocean, about to be dispatched and be eaten … by them. They had respect for these fish they had caught. These kids were now part of the ecosystem. It had not occurred to me until this moment that one way to help people appreciate nature is to have them eat it.
In fifteen minutes, we had all the fish we needed. Two of the kids volunteered to gut the rockfish and filet the lingcod. I put a cutting board on the doghouse, gave them a 30-second lesson, then handed them the knife and they went at it. It wasn’t precision surgery, but we had dinner.
-- Bill Urschel
Her first lingcod.