SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Salmon Slickers
By Dave Kiffer


January 29, 2008

Ketchikan, Alaska - Last week I was trolling through the couple of hundred "Ketchikan" related items on EBAY when something caught my eye.

jpg Salmon Slickers Dave Kiffer

Nearly lost in the all the "last minute" cruise cabin offers was one that was truly out of the ordinary. An enterprising seine boat captain from Washington state was offering a personal tour of the Inside Passage on his seine boat for the reasonable price of just over $5,000.

To make it even more personal, the winning bidder could choose his or her own itinerary and decide where to go between Seattle and Skagway.

Talk about a dream come true. And at a price that was not that much more than a normal cruise (undiscounted) would cost.

Apparently no one else agreed with me. The offer didn't garner any bids.

That's too bad. Years ago, when I lived in Wyoming I had a friend who's family ran one of the oldest (1890s to the present) "dude" ranches in the West.

"It's hard to believe," she said at the time. "That city folks would pay hundreds of dollars to get a zillion saddle sores and nearly choke to death on dust. Just so they could say they were on a 'roundup' sort of."

And that was before the "City Slicker" movies made the idea of a ranch vacation even more enticing.

At the time, about 17 years ago, it occurred to me 'why can't fishermen do the same thing.'

All you needed to do was convince some cretins, uhh city folks, to pay to become crewmen on a fishing boat. It seemed like a fortuitious thought. Fishermen everywhere were grumbling about the high cost of everything.

Imagine the sea change in the industry if not only could you zero out those pesky crew costs, but you could get someone to actually pay for the privilege of helping you make a living. Brilliant, absolutely, brilliant.

Of course, like all my other brilliant ideas, it didn't catch on. I guess it was just more "romantic" to imagine oneself wearing chaps and riding the range than to imagine oneself wearing Helly Hansens and wiping fish slime off your nose.

Besides, it wasn't like I had my own fishing boat to promote as the next "big thing" in "adventure tourism." And since it is not the Alaskan way to encourage anyone else to profit off your "intellectual property" I just tossed my idea into my mental spoon bucket (Mmmmm. Extra Red Bear!) and forgot about it.

So now I see someone else is benefiting from my tarnished intellectual property. Or at least trying to.

I think by making it sound like an "offbeat" cruise trip, he missed the boat.

Someone accustomed to comfortable beds, five star meals and a cruise director is not going to be enticed by a smelly bunk, a can of Dinty Moore and some unwashed reject from Pirates of the Caribbean.

If your idea of a good trip is basking on the Lido Deck, then catching the rays on a pile of seine corks probably isn't going to float your boat.

The "entrepreneur to be" should have emphasized the trip would be a "working" vacation.

"Spin brodies in a seine skiff."

"Mend net until your fingers fall off."

"Be colder and more miserable than anyone you've ever known."

He could have emphasized the closeness with "nature."

"Pick jellyfish from a seine net."

"Get bitten by a rabid dog salmon."

"Experience the fun of removing fish scales from your underwear."

Now that's the ticket. That might just work.

Which of course it the idea, get someone to do the work for you. Sort of.

"The only problem with the whole danged thing, was that you had to work harder," my Wyoming friend also said. "In the end, it was always easier to do the work yourself than to try to teach some city slicker how to do it."

Fair enough, but I bet it would be worth the extra work just to see a salmon slicker trying to herd some humpies.


Dave Kiffer is a freelance writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.
Contact Dave at

Dave Kiffer ©2008

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