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Setlining: no dice

Well, I didn’t catch anything in my first setlining attempt. There was still bait on one of the hooks when I pulled it in.

Incidentally, the 550 cord did sink. It must take a while to get saturated.

This weekend, I’ll try again. Stay tuned!

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Setlining: trying it out for the first time

In the last setlining installment, I showed how I made my first set line. I’m not one for wasting any time, so I decided to get it out in the water today.

I’ll be targeting burbot, a bottom-feeding cod-like fish. I’ve never seen or eaten one, but they’re supposed to be delicious. They’re also native to Alaska, unlike the stocked rainbow trout I’ve caught here before.

For bait, I’m using small shrimp meat packed on to the hook. This is not ideal—the meat is soft, and has a hard time staying on the hook when it’s flung—but it’ll do until I get better stuff.

Just down the road from my apartment is an access point to the Tanana River, right at the confluence of two braids. This, according to Alaska Fish and Game, is a prime location for burbot. I selected a site, somewhat away from where the public would normally go, and attempted to throw in. Unfortunately, I ran into a bit of a, um, snag: my leg. It turns out that flinging a weighted line with flailing hooks carries certain risks if not done properly. My reward for forgetting that is a nice two-inch trench on the back of my thigh. Just a flesh wound.

Being appropriately careful, my next time was a slinging success:

 

Set line in the Tanana River.
Set line in the Tanana River.

The sharp observer will notice another problem: nylon paracord floats on the water. That’s undesireable. I decided to leave the line in, since it’s at the outflow of a river braid that’s unlikely to see watercraft. But the cord will have to be replaced with something else next time. Another, lesser problem is that I didn’t have enough cord length to tie the line to a tree. Instead I tied it to a stick that I pinned down with rocks. That should hold a big fish, but when I buy new line I’ll be sure to get more of it.

Incidentally, while I think the bait stayed on the hooks when I flung the line out there, I couldn’t see for sure. I’ll have to use tougher bait next time, or find a way to drop the lines without flinging them.

All in all, this is a good first try. Now I play the waiting game. In the next installment, tomorrow, I’ll pull the line and see what’s on it (or not).

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Setlining: making the line

This is the first installment of my setlining sequence.

Making a basic set line is my first step. I found this helpful page to get me started. I’d like the ability to do both summer and winter setlining with the same equipment, so I’m copying that design. A trip to Walmart got me these items:

50' of paracord, 6 2/0 hooks, 6 #1 barrel swivels with snaps, and a 1 lb. bank sinker.
50′ of paracord, 6 2/0 hooks, 6 #1 barrel swivels with snaps, 65 lb. test braided line, and a 1 lb. bank sinker.

A bit of assembly produced this:

Partially assembled set line with two leaders.
Partially assembled set line with two leaders.

It really can’t be much simpler. The total cost was $36, of which $16 was the braided line. Fishing line, as it turns out, is expensive. But I only used about 2′ out of 150 yards, so I have far more than I need.

Now I need to get bait, and go set the line. That’s the next installment.

 

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Effishency

I like fishing. What I don’t like is standing around for hours throwing out a line and getting nothing to show for it. Now many people wouldn’t have a problem with that. For them, “fishing” is merely a cover story for relaxing and being outside. And that’s ok. But for me, fishing is for food. Fun is second on the priority list. Consequently, anything that increases my haul for the time I spend on it is a win.

Yesterday I was reading the local fishing regulations, and they mention something called a “set line”. This, for those who don’t know (I didn’t), involves setting one or more hooks attached to leaders on a long rope. Each hook is baited, and then the baited end of the rope is sunk down into a body of water. The other end is secured somehow, usually to a tree on shore, or to a stick above a hole in ice. This technique also goes by “longlining” or “trotlining”. Here in the Interior, it seems common for people to do this in winter under the ice, but it’s legal year-round. After setting the line, the idea is that you leave it there, and return at least every 24 hours to check it. It’s like fur trapping, except for fish!

Unlike fur trapping, I actually have the means and space to try this. Watch this space for updates.

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Two years in Fairbanks

May 14 was the two-year anniversary of my arrival in Fairbanks. That’s as a good an excuse as any to do a meaty blog post—something I haven’t done in a while. And that a good friend of mine is now blogging professionally, so I should at least attempt to increase my output.

These last two years have been eventful. I came here to work for the National Weather Service. That was a good job, and I don’t regret taking it, but it ended up not being for me. So for just over a year now, I’ve been as a software engineer at the Alaska Satellite Facility, a unit of the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. This is the best job I’ve ever had (my job at a mineral processing company was a close second; I’d hate to have to live off the difference).

Fairbanks itself is also a nice place to live, but it’s wearing thin. I’ve found that to live comfortably here, one needs a house with land, a garage and  a basement, so you’d have plenty of room for all the toys and activities. All these things are quite out of my price range, and even if they weren’t, I’m not sure I’d want to spend the money anyway.

Being a UAF employee means that I get to take classes tuition-free! This past semester I took a pair of math classes. That turned out to be a bit of an overload for me, but I survived. This coming fall semester I’ll go it easier and take a film photography class instead.

This summer I plan to fish, hike, explore, participate in activities like Field Day 2014, and just relax and have fun. Maybe a little travel.

All in all, I’m enjoying myself. I have hobbies and volunteer activities to keep myself occupied. I’m also getting back into physical fitness, so I train six days a week now. My life is coming together, and I’m starting to look more toward the future again. Life is good!