Every summer the salmon run and we do our best as good Alaskans to get our share of the fish. I have patience issues, so the whole ‘stand in the water with a line and a little hook for hours and legally take 1-2 fish a day’ thing doesn’t work for me. I instead love the resident only method of dipnetting. Take a giant 5 foot net and put it at the end of a super long pole with a handle, stand in the mouth of a river (sometimes up to your chest) and wait for the salmon to swim in. Some people don’t think it’s very sportsmanlike, but whatever. I won’t be having them over for dinner. And if I did, I wouldn’t be serving any of our amazing salmon.
The trip this year started with a bad omen…a fishing report suggesting that commercial boats would be cleaning the run out of the inlet…then a report coming in saying the fish were slammed. So, we put all of our gear into the VW and powered up and out. We got about 2 blocks from the house before there was a literal and actual fire in the van. No major damage (except for the bar bill afterward), but we were a bit mopey and unsure if we would get to fish this year….And then another report came in. So many fish, and no one is taking them. So we loaded our gear again and jumped in the pickup. A 3 hour drive and we had our nets in the water by 9pm. Fished until 11, and had 6 pretty sockeye to show for our efforts and a totally soaked me. A trip to the Wal Mart (I hate to admit that I went, but it was midnight…what can you do?) and I had dry duds, some snacks, and a blanket to sack out in the pickup.
Fast forward past a 3 hour nap, and we had our nets in the water at 6am again. After a full day of steady fishing we pulled 35 salmon.
We now begin the task of processing these tasty beasts. Almost all are filleted and the bellies are brining to faux dehydrate. But look at the teeth on this guy! As the salmon spawn out their jaws grow and teeth become all crazy and scary. I’m so glad they don’t bite as I had 2 nail me while in the water – full speed projectile salmon hurt!
The husband did an awesome job as well. Despite only having one boot. Somehow in the loading and unloading process one went missing. (People can be so rude, right?) But he padded around like a true Alaskan trooper and slayed the fish regardless. He also does all the gutting (I fillet) for which I am eternally grateful (I stand over his shoulder and announce loudly whether “It’s a boy!” as he zips each belly).
It’s a ton of work, and everything on my body hurts, but we did it. We kicked some fishy ass. And it’s going to be delicious all year. But first, I need a nap and a massage.