by Joseph Lawrence
It was mid August, 2016. Our good deeds to the elders who no longer could provide for themselves was finally going to pay off with the fish and other catch we gave out, without expecting anything in return.
This is the time when Brandon, Joshua and I went to go drifting for salmon out in the ocean just off the shore of Upnerkilleq, three miles off of Umkumiut fish camp.
I remember that day like it was just yesterday. I remember waking up that morning, and I went to the living room to go make coffee from the stove top, and the feeling of waking up to a quiet house, and the morning sunlight was shining through the curtains. The taste of coffee and Sailor Boy crackers with peanut butter tantalized my tastebuds and quenched my hunger that beautiful morning.
I went outside to see how the weather looked and felt it looking good from our livingroom window. I also remember when the plane was coming in and was announcing that he was on his way to drop off some bypass for the village store.
When I got outside I observed the weather, clouds, and to see if the hills close to Toksook Bay looked larger than usual. That is when the water is like glass out in the Bay. Sure enough, it was! I went back into the house and the smell of coffee filled the air all around the house.
After I had a few sips of my coffee I got a phone call from my cousin Brandon and he asked me, “Ya, what’s up JJ? Looks like a good day to go fishing ah?”
I replied, “Yup for real I went to go see the hills by the ocean, and it looks glassy out there.”
Then he said, “I’ll let you know when to get ready, I’m gonna run around and get stuff ready.”
I was really excited to go and I got all the stuff I needed like rain coat, rain pants, sweater, boots, and my coat ready to be out in the ocean, so I could go down right when he calls.
It took him about 30 minutes to call me back, and in that 30 minutes I went down to the store to ask my supervisor if I could advance from my hours and charge some munchies for the trip.
After I got what I needed for the fishing trip, I went to my house, and when I got there my cousin Brandon called and asked if I was ready. I told him I would be down in a minute. Just like usual, Brandon was always sarcastic, “I thought you said only a minute? It’s been a minute and a half!” We all laughed and it was time to go out fishing.
It took us about an hour to get to where we go drifting and that place was called ‘Upnerkilleq’. We fished for about an hour. More and more boats were coming in, and that was when the humpies were hitting. I could tell that Brandon was getting annoyed of catching them by his face reaction, and body language.
The smell of the ocean was like taking a nice cold drink of water, it was refreshing. I never thought I would enjoy fishing that much.
It was about 5:00 in the evening and that was when the Reds started to hit more and more. During the afternoon we caught little bit of reds but not as much as we caught around 5:00. I could see Brandon and Joshua’s faces get really happy and their expressions were priceless.
After about an hour, we finally caught a KING SALMON! and the expression of Brandon’s face was like getting scared but excited for that salmon.
When it hit the net we could see the net going in and out of the water from the king salmon fighting to get out of the net, also you could hear the splash, and to me it was going slow motion because it was so exciting and real.
When we got it into the boat we finally took a break from fishing, and had dry fish, chips, soda, and some pastries.
When we got tired we decided to bring in the net and take what we had caught to go home. We caught 15 Reds, the Humpies was about 5, and 2 Kings, one big and a small one. The sun was setting and the cool breeze of the ocean and the smell of the salmon made my day.
I was happy also because my mom went home that day and she made fried salmon and minute rice for me. I will never forget that day and what Brandon and Joshua taught me. They taught me how to hunt and fish, and they were the ones who had always asked me if I wanted to go. I learned everything they knew from our belated grandfather Carl Mark.