HADDOCKS & HEADACHES
by Rodney Gage
“You want to go on a fishing trip to Glouster?” was the
first thing I heard upon answering the phone. My reply was, “Sure,
now tell me about it.”
It seems my old friend Charlie Logan was trying to get up a fishing
party from the Kinderhook Sportsmen’s Club members. He had a bus
and charter boat all lined up and only needed about 30 fishermen. Sounded
good to me. Over the next few days the party was made up and we were
to meet in the Village Square, Saturday at 12:00 midnight (that’s
the time most all strange things are supposed to happen).
Saturday midnight came and so did 32 fishermen. Most of us had never
done this kind of fishing before and didn’t really know what to
expect. Nearly everyone brought along a good sized ice chest and the
explanation, “it's to bring back all the fish.” Every one
of them however, seemed strangely heavy and clinked and gurgled when
The bus arrives and all gear stowed aboard. Tour director Logan calls
the roll; all are present and away we go. We all wanted to snooze a
little on the bus but I don’t think many of us did. According
to Mike, the bus driver, we were a pretty quiet bunch. All he heard
was a little chatter and a snap-top or two.
On to the Berkshire Spur, the Mass Pike, then a pit stop at Howard Johnson’s.
All out for a cup of coffee or whatever. Back on the bus, roll call
again and away we go. Must have dozed a bit and don’t remember
much until I heard Club President, Bill Palmer and Joe Wago arguing
how far we had to go on Route 128. A few more comments, snap caps and
here’s Glouster. Everybody out for breakfast.
Looks like a popular place; 5 a.m. and already there’s quite
a line waiting for the party boats. Restaurant kind of full, but we
find a place. Glen Weaver, Mike, the driver, Logan, the director and
myself put away assorted quantities of eggs, home fries, pancakes, sausage,
etc. Looks like most everyone else did about the same.
Now we’re all content and eager to fish so it’s back to
the bus for the gear. Where’s Al Liljedahl? He has the Dramamine.
Al dispenses the medication, as a good pharmacist should, and now we
are all protected against the ravages of “Mal de Mer.”
The Captain has arrived and all-aboard, ice chests and all. Some of
them don’t look quite as heavy; ice must have melted. Away from
the dock and away we go. A little fog, but not bad. Wind is blowing
a bit and the sun promises to shine. We settle ourselves for a three-hour
ride to the fishing grounds. The Captain says he’ll decide what
we will fish for when we get there and he is able to see what’s
around. The sea was pitching and rolling so much one couldn’t
relax and doze a bit on the way out but some of us tried anyhow.
At the fishing grounds, the Captain, after consulting with his fish
finding equipment and radio conversations with other fishing boats decided
to rig for haddock fishing. By this time standing on the deck, at least
for me, was quite difficult due to the rough seas. The stern fishing
area would not accommodate all of us so around 8-10 had to take the
bow deck. One really couldn’t stand up to fish for risk of falling
over the rather low railing on an off balance roll. We sat flat on the
deck and prepared to fish.
Where’s the bait? Don’t have any up front; guess it’s
all in the back and I’ll have to go get some. About this time
word comes up Bill Palmer has floated a fine haddock. Wonder how he
got fishing so quickly? Also about this time a few are about to lose
their breakfast through the effects of the dreaded seasickness. Made
my way back to the stern for a piece of clam bait. Up comes another
fish from Bill Palmer or Joe Wago and another breakfast or two from
Back up on the bow again and start to bait up. First fish on the bow
is Billy MacGregor’s. OK, got myself positioned next to Bill Hunter
and the cabin, wrapped my arm around a spar for an attempt at stability,
baited up and lowered into the water. Down and down, sure is deep, finally
the bottom; checks out over 150 feet. Never caught haddock before; wonder
what they bite like.
The boat pitches and rolls so much, the sinker, which must weigh half
a pound, bounces off the bottom. Soon I feel a gentle tug. Setting the
hook is difficult due to the upward angle of the rod over the bow railing,
but it’s managed and my first haddock is on the way up. A call
for the gaff expertly administered by the Mate. I wonder how HE can
Anyhow, my first fish is in the locker. Need more bait. By this time
a pan of cut clams is on the bow, but on the other side. Still can’t
stand up so a crawl is necessary. Look around and note some of the boys
must be working on yesterdays breakfast by this time. So far I feel
pretty good. Back over the side with my line and wait. Thought I felt
another bite but wasn’t sure. Wait awhile and crank up my line.
Find the hook bare. Yep! It was another bite. Ok, now I think I know
what the bite feels like. Crawl over for more bait and line back in
the water. Some of the fellows are now feeling really bad and have stopped
fishing. Another bite and up comes another haddock about 5-6 pounds.
Still feeling good, but sorry for those that don’t. Things are
quiet for a while with no one bringing up anything but past meals. Weigh
anchor and search for another school.
One located and back fishing again. Another bite and another haddock.
This makes three. Guess I got the hang of it and should fill my ice
All of a sudden it’s very warm and I start to sweat. Wish I could
get my jacket off but it’s such an effort to climb over bodies
to get to the cabin I decided not to. Then oh! Oh! I think I’m
starting to feel sick. Maybe if I get active and check my line it will
pass. Now I’m feeling weak and it’s an effort to crank up
my line. Finally get my line up and find the bait gone. Good Lord! Do
I have to crawl over there again? OK, maybe if I catch another I’ll
feel better. After a time of getting progressively worse I think I better
wrap it up and retreat to the Cabin. I do so and meet Al Liljedahl in
the rear of the boat. "Hey Al! What kind of pills did you give
“I don’t know, I threw up too” was the reply.
When I got inside the cabin, the Captain was eating a sandwich. I remembered
I had one too but eating was the furthest thing from my mind at this
time. The rest of the trip was spent suffering in the cabin and I’m
a little fuzzy on the happenings. I remember being first afraid I would
die, then afraid I wouldn’t. The boat could have sunk and I wouldn’t
have cared at this point. Strangely enough I retained all the contents
of my stomach, but perhaps it would have been better if I hadn’t.
After about an hour of this it was time to leave. Once underway, the
trip was a bit smoother than just tossing dead (poor choice of words)
in the water.
However, I didn’t feel much better until we arrived at the harbor.
The illness passed nearly as quickly as it came and I was able to enjoy
the harbor scenery on the way to the dock. Our boat passed another with
an 800 pound Tuna on the deck. Our Captain told us that he had one over
900 pounds last week. At $1.55 per pound this kind of catch pays off.
Once docked we picked up our gear and fish the Mate had expertly filleted
on the way in. After stowing the gear in the waiting bus we all returned
to the restaurant for a seafood dinner. Everyone was over the sickness
and even feeling hungry. After a delicious meal of clams and it was
back on the bus, next stop Kinderhook. On the bus we paid Bill Palmer
and Joe Wago the pool money for the most and largest fish. We then settled
ourselves to a quiet ride back. The only disturbances being the objections
to allowing Bill and Joe to win the pool. It seems we just discovered
they had turned Pro years ago and didn’t have the amateur status
like the rest of us. We really should have guessed it when they brought
their own tackle with all those hooks while the rest of us had to use
the single hook tackle supplied by the Captain. Come to think of it,
they didn’t get sick either. Anyway the problem was resolved by
penalizing them to buy 5 more tickets for our annual club raffle being
held at the Chatham Fair. Everyone pretty well pooped from no sleep
the night before so no further comments until arriving in Kinderhook
a little after 9 PM. By this time our tour director, who had sacked
out on the bench seat in the rear of the bus, was conscious again. We
all said our farewells and departed for our warm little beds.
Some comments heard before departing were;
“Let’s go again!”
“All I could do was roll my eyes.”
“Next time let’s go to a Ballgame!”
“It cost me $35.00 to get sick?”
Well it cost me $35.00 to get sick too and I did not enjoy that part
of it a bit, but I, for one, am ready to go again….