I became a professional fisherman at 10 years old…
My family moved to Kodiak Island, Alaska when I was 10 years old and I had just finished the third grade. We moved up there at the end of the summer and I made fast friends with two native twin boys next door, named Alvin and Melvin. They were just a year younger than I and our homes overlooked Kodiak harbor which were just a hop, skip, and a jump from the ferry docks.
Every chance we got, we grabbed our fishing poles and we fished from those docks. Mostly we jigged with spoons or fished with cut bait from the harbor bottom. We caught tom cod, small flounder, small halibut, arctic char, grayling, bull head and the like depending. Over time we got to know some of the crab pot fisherman who even talked to us at times.
One day after we caught a slew of tom cod, we asked one of the fisherman if he would want to buy our catch for bait? He said, “Yes, sure why not”? He and some of the other fisherman at times would buy our fish for a nickel or a dime a pound depending what we had, and so it went after our fishing expeditions. We would pedal our fish to any fisherman who might buy them. We did not make much, enough for sodas or candy at the local Kraft grocery store, but we thought we were just the coolest! We were professional fisherman!
This went on for some time, till one day after we caught just a few fish, I told the fellas we should consider putting some gravel from the road in the mouths of the fish to get them to weigh more-and make more money. Thinking this a good idea, we took our fish up to the road. My friend held open the fish by the mouth, while I poured gravel down the fish’s throat and took a stick ram-rodding the gravel down. Soon we had some fish with fat gravel tummies.
We took our fish to the first crab fisherman we saw and asked if he wanted our fish? He said sure, knowing who we were. There were a number of fisherman hanging out buy the scale table smoking and talking and they stopped talking to watch us as our fisherman took our bucket and dumped the fish onto one of the metal tables next to the scale.
As the fish dumped out on to the table, gravel rolled out of one of the fish mouths and skittered across the table top with a loud rattling sound. All got very quiet as all eyes looked to the gravel. My buddies and I were petrified. Suddenly my friend Melvin blurted out, “Hey Mister, why do you think those fish ate those rocks”? Hearing this, all the fisherman started laughing hysterically, even our fisherman that was buying our fish was doubling over laughing.
After they regained their composure again, the fisherman gave us five dollars each! They told us not to weigh down our catch again and that they were impressed by our business sense. We ran to the grocery to load up on candy and cokes, high fiving all the way!