The tree overhanging the processing room is always burdened by ravens and eagles that sit overlooking the harbor. I find myself watching them every time I pass a window on that side of the lodge; for someone who’d never seen one before arriving in Alaska, they are really interesting creatures. Although the chartered vessels radio in as they progress through the harbor and towards the dock, I rely more on the eagles to determine the vessels return. I use them as my vessel clock for when I need to start prepping for fishing guest returns. The natives suggest that the giant ravens in Alaska are their ancestors, but I also imagine the eagles are the reincarnations of anglers, if only by the way they perk up at the return of the vessels.
On busy days, I find myself thrown into the processing room because I can vacuum pack fish fillets. As much as one might think that the processing room is a wet and disgusting place, I find that it is actually really interesting. I’d volunteer to go any time. Our processor is probably one of the funniest people I’ve ever met and he’s constantly bursting into song. I know plenty of people who can carry a tune for a while, but this guy can recite the lyrics in their entirety. I might not want to burden others with my horrible singing voice, but I sure do appreciate the passion and pep that a song can bring.
If you do so much as say a single phrase he can turn it into the most obscure song. I consider it my job now to make him slip up at some point, but that realistically isn’t going to happen because I clearly don’t have enough musical knowledge. I’m not sure how long he’s been processing, but I like watching him work because it is methodical and intrinsic. He always knows whichever method the guest prefers their catch and he isn’t shy about helping me figure things out. I had to rebag a fillet the other day because it got crinkled in the vacuum sealer and I wasn’t sure which bag to use or even what type of fish I had inside.
He showed me that not only was I holding a halibut fillet, but that you could tell certain fish from each other by the appearance of a tag or not. Halibut does not need to have a tag of skin on it. I had been wondering why some pieces of fillets had skin on them while others didn’t, but had never really thought there was a method to his madness. I should really have learned at this point that there is often a hidden reason behind a lot of what goes on here.