Monday, January 23, 2012

Day 44: Back-Alley Squid Dealings

It’s been nearly two weeks since I jigged for squid. Squid are on my menu, but I feel reluctant, maybe even embarrassed to keep trying. In my three evenings jigging, I spent 6 gallons of fuel and way too much money on gear. I only managed to personally catch two of the smallest squid passing through Bremerton.
As far as pride goes, it stings. But I’m not much of a quitter, so I’m stuck obsessing about tide, weather, technique, rods, line weight, and jigs. Armando and Manny, the Filipino gentlemen I met on the pier, recommended a new pole, new line, and new jigs, basically all new rigging expect the swivels.  
Armando insisted on handmade jigs sold at a little Korean store near the bank on 6th street in Bremerton. I drove up and down 6th for the past few weeks. I couldn’t find the store. Bremerton is not a major metropolis. I searched online and through sports stores in Silverdale, Bremerton, Shelton, and Olympia for jigs that looked like the ones the guys used. I got nothing.
I hit 6th street again. I drove up and down, and like usual, found nothing. I pulled into an alley near the bank to switch directions. I saw it, glass door encrusted with grime and void of transparency. Above the door in oriental-script font was the word, Oriental.  I figured this must be the place.
An aging Korean man with an oxygen tank by his side and tubes up his nose worked the front counter. He bowed slightly as I entered, and then slipped out for a smoke break. The place was an eclectic gold mine. My eyes scanned dingy cooler doors and dust laden shelves of cleavers, garden spades, woks, refrigerated kim-chee, canned lychees, chopsticks, laundry soap, bags of black beans, mung beans, azuki beans, frozen pig heads, sacks of rice, lots and lots of rice, ramen, fortune cookies, dried squid, gallons of sesame oil, Hello Kitty toothbrushes, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and those wire, mesh sink-strainers that are so dang handy. I saw lots of things I wanted to buy, but no squid jigs.
I loaded a half-gallon of sesame oil in my basket, along with a toasted rice tea, dried haddock strips, and a couple of those sink-strainers. I moved to the front and waited for the shopkeeper to return. When he returned, I asked him about squid jigs.
He tilted his head to the side. “How you know about jigs?”
“Illahee Pier, the Filipinos sent me.”
He crossed his arms in front of his chest. I was missing something, some secret code or handshake to access the jigs. I started to ramble. “Well, I just started jigging, you see. I’m not great at all. But Armando and Manny said…”
“Yes, Sir.”
“I see.” He reached under the front counter and pulled out two rectangular jewelry cases. Sparkles caught my eye when he removed the covers. It’s hard to explain the beauty of glass beads and glitter bedazzling a collar of silver hooks. I gasped. He smiled.
“Do you make these?”
“My wife.”
“Please tell her these are the loveliest jigs ever.”
 I selected six, three for my line and three for my son, Jaden. He packaged the jigs in tiny jewelry boxes and rang up my purchase. I slid the credit card, and he bowed slightly.

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