Superintendent Gibbs approved use of Crystal Cove as a fishery to Milford Johnson in 1956. At that time, Milford moved his fishing site from Star Island to the Crystal Cove location. Milford Sr. and his brother were going to work the Crystal Cove fishery together, as they had at Star Island, but Bob was in the service around this time and was not particularly interested in fishing after his return. Milford and his wife Myrtle eventually operated the fishery by themselves and used the main lodge of the McGeath compound as a residence. Milford Sr. fished whitefish nets at the mouth of McCargoe Cove for 10 days in the fall, near the end of October. He would set nets for 24 hours from 4am to 4am. Milford Sr. also fished Steamboat Island, Five-Finger Bay, Big Todd, etc. It is said he never fished beyond Big Todd Harbor.
Milford Johnson at Crystal Cove
Oral History 4: Milford Johnson
Johnson: My name is Milford Johnson and I've been fishing here for, a well I should say for about 60 years. Interviewer: Tell me the whole process of gill fishing, gill net fishing. How do you do that? What, do you start out early in the morning? Go through a typical day. Johnson: Well, a typical day, you start out early in the morning and and then go to your equipment and of course you'll lift net mine at different spots. Now like this territory we probably could just set the one net on one reef then we go to another and near some islands. Very seldom can set two because the water's so deep here, drops right down. So now indeed they're all pulled by hand. Now that's of course shallow water it is maybe from 15 fathoms to one fathom and is quite a job before you're through. Sometimes they're full of moss you got to shake them wash them off the stern of the boat you stand up on the stern of the boat and just shakes hard as you can. So by the time you're through, your a little tired. That's when we get back there first thing you do have to unload them of course. And pull them up to descale them. These fish have to be weighed before they're cleaned, so they got the round weight. And after that's done she takes a fish out of the box and she measures it and she hands it over to me and I clean it and we have to sex it whether it's a male or female and then these are weighed again when they're dressed. Then you have to take scale samples of each one, the length of it, where it's caught, the depth of water and always think so if you have three or four hundred pounds of fish in the olden days you could have been cleaned and prepared half a ton in the time the time it takes now to get five or six hundred pounds ready. Interviewer: You used to do some salting of herring. Johnson: Oh, I've salted a lot of herring here. Interviewer: Tell me how that's done. Johnson: The herring are all caught in gill nets. And you go out in in the morning and you got to pick these one by one out of their nets. It's really a job, you know. And they're just about three to a pound, the average herring. Interviewer: How do you salt it? You just pour salt on them? Johnson: No. You have it rigged up so you have a box and you take three at a time in your hands, one at a time and your thumb spreads the salt. And you lay them in with the belly up and then about all the way up to the top. Then the last ones go with the skin side up. And every once in awhile you take a hand and sprinkle a little salt. But then this works good to get the whole fish. You drag it through the salt and your thumb spreads itself Interviewer: What do you use, kind of a rough...? Johnson: Course ground rock salt is used for preserving. Interviewer: How long will they keep that way? They don't have to be refrigerated? Johnson: They do in middle of summer. They don't have to be refrigerated for oh, say they'd hold a month anyway. And they're brought in, the way we do it now, the way they want them now. When we saw them in these barrels, they hold about 250 pounds of fish. They're there for about 4 days, so they get salt cured. Then they're repacked from there into pails, plastic pails fifty pound pails. Then you make brine, 100% brine. I have a tester you know to do that with. And they're brined in these new fifty pound pails. That fish will hold all of a month, unless it was right in the sun, you know, warm. But usually we put them in cold storage, just in a cooler up there. Interviewer: You've really been around in different parts of the island. What was some of those? Johnson: I have lived at Washington Harbor, Wright's Island and Rock Harbor, of course at the old lighthouse we were there 10 years and Star Island and then here, my last stop. Interviewer: What's this called? Johnson: Amygdaloid. And the bay here is Crystal Cove.
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- 2020-10-14 00:00:00.0