Baikal had gotten rough; that was confirmed as a third fisherman poked his head through the railing to evacuate his innards into the sea. I had put my pole down, and was trying to get a good shot of the bow crashing through oncoming waves. Thinking of Lieutenant Dan unleashing his anger at God from the mast of a Bubba Gump Shrimp boat, I grinned. We were riding the “Northwest” on the back of bucking Baikal in the whipping wind, the stellar galaxies looking back on us from all directions of up. With the universe in full array and Baikal giving us a buffet, I couldn’t help but wonder at vastness of the Creator’s majesty. I enjoyed the ride, feeling a certain sense of freedom as the vessel heaved, things being entirely out of my control. It helped that several miles to our north the confident lighthouse glow on the hotel of that same name reminded us of where the Lystvianka port rests. I kept my pole at the ready, to start fishing again the moment the boat slowed to an idle because I was behind!
We dropped our lines around 9 pm. After an hour and a half of no fish, I reeled up the first one! I felt charmed as the only foreigner on board among thirteen fishermen. As I said, I reeled up the first one. But I am used to standing in rivers. I had not yet mastered the reel and jerk, and I lost the blasted fish! And it was not the last one I set free!
But Baikal’s waves had somewhat leveled the playing field! I was still on my feet. I could fish, unlike a few groaning fishermen below deck, he he! Some of those boys had been pulling out one omul after another. Grrrrr! We were catching omul from depths of 30 to 60 meters. Ah-ha! Fish on! I reeled carefully and as silver flashed in our lights shining in water, I mentally prepared myself; reeled my fish to the surface and jerked! Tangled line! Radio antenna! I had to clamber up onto the bridge’s roof to free it. Meanwhile I swear one of the guys pulled in four fish as I untangled. Soon buckets were filling with silver fish. My bucket? Well, it wasn’t empty!
And so went the night. Stars speaking from the past, a cold breath blowing on us. Lines searched the deep long into the dark Siberian morning. I went below around 4:30 am for a quick and toasty doze. Buckets moving on the deck above me said the boys were still reeling in omul. I shook my head and scrambled topside, cause I wanted more fish dinners. The boys fished until we hooked the sun and pulled it over the horizon.
Thirty greenbacks = 1000 Rubles, for a sleepless night of fishing and morning glow on frosty Baikal. A Siberian’s paradise!
About Omul: Omul are native to lake Baikal. They can only be found in the pearl of Siberia (Baikal), and you have got, got, got to understand how tasty they are! I mean T-A-S-T-Y! Baked with boiled or fried potatoes and a big dollop of sour cream? That is considered the height of fine cuisine in these parts. Never had some hot smoked omul? Friend, you haven’t lived. You got to get you to Siberia, Irkutsk or Ulan-Ude that is. Then make for Baikal because smoked omul is the bomb among fish!