The three quarter moon glows dimly behind a thin unbroken layer of high stratus cloud. Tonight is nearly as black as any night can be. I walked out onto the bridge deck, eye level to the net reels, to look out at the horizon. I thought I saw it, but it is just as likely that I made it up. We are cruising up the bank to a nighttime station Chris has picked about 50 nautical miles east north east of the mouth of Chesapeake Bay. We have already finished fishing model pixels representing “good” and “bad” habitat that we selected as randomly as possible given what we still need to get done before Sunday. The northerly wind has died down so the “Karen Elizabeth” has lost the heave she had earlier this evening. The only waves to speak of are those she throws up which cap as ghosts in her wake.
A few hours ago we fished Chris’s daytime station with the net doors armed with real time and recording temperature and depth sensors. He picked a bump along the wall of the shelf break he said is “sometimes pretty fishy.” The record of his trawl tows stored in his Navigation Software shows he’s worked this feature a lot. His first tow followed the 114 fathom depth contour, and in real time the temperature at the doors held to a pretty steady 53 degrees. The low frequency acoustic machines lit up with bright orange and red targets and the 200 kilohertz machine showed a lot of bottom haze. “It might be hake‚” he said. When we hauled back the net was indeed full of small hake, a few dogfish, and about 4 pounds of butterfish.