I spent my high school summers in Cannon Beach working at a fish market. It's there that I fish got introduced to commercial dory fishermen. They would pull in most every afternoon to sell their catch and I always had a great time talking with them, pouring over their boats and picking their brains. I have always been an avid fisherman and commercial fishing just seemed like another way to enjoy my favorite activity.
I became friends with a number of them and one day I was asked by one of the older (40s) fisherman if I wanted to go out for a trip. No-brainer and of course I said yes. We made arrangements for my next day off to meet him before sunrise at the ramp to the beach by Haystack Rock. I jumped in his truck that morning and he gave me the rundown on my job which was to turn the dory around into the waves after he backed up into the surf and dumped it in. The surf was running a bit large that day (6'-8' breakers) and we were the only boat on the beach. I held the boat until he came back down, hopped in and I pushed us deep enough to drop the outboard down. Engines fires and I scramble over the transom. As I made my way up to the console I got my first look at the surf from boat-level. Huh....this boat seems a lot smaller now. The captain was an experienced doryman and we ran back and forth parallel to the surf, carefully picking his spots to try and advance us seaward.
He ran a Pacific City style dory with an open bow so the view was great as we made our way out to the last set of waves. This particular set had shortened the interval between them and while we only had three more to get over, I could tell this could be interesting. We navigated the first couple of 8' waves before they broke but the last decided to curl just as we glided won the back of the second wave. He punched the throttle, told me to hang on and we punched our way through but not without taking our lumps. With that open bow a healthy dose of water came flying in and covered us both as we ducked behind the console. We had some scattered gear and plenty of water sloshing in the stern but other than that seemed to be in decent shape. He told me to head back and pull the plugs while he opened it up to drain the excess water.
We headed up to around the 30 fathom mark and got the gear out and started to troll north. The first fish came on the port-side deep within minutes of pouring the first cup of coffee. Several were in the box within an hour and one of his fellow doryman called him on the radio. He was sitting on the beach contemplating if it was worth it or not. That's when we discovered that the wave that washed over us had taken off the radio antenna. All that was left was a base and some wires. Besides deckhand my additional new job was to grab the wire with some pliers and become the replacement antenna for the day anytime the captain wanted to talk.
We spent the next 8 hours catching fish until the afternoon wind came up and made life miserable in the flat-bottomed boat so we headed in. Turns out that not only did we land some decent fish that day but he hooked me on dory-fishing and the next summer I joined the fleet with my own dory. I still count those next few summers as a highlight of my life and the itch to get back on the ocean never seems to go away.