Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Fish-Frenzy

This is the time of year when most Alaskans cannot concentrate. It's called The Run. From early June to the end of August, and even into September, Run becomes a verb and a noun, sort of like Barbecue.

The Run refers, of course, to fish; salmon to be exact, and right now the Run for Reds has just about everybody coming or going from the Kenai Peninsula, the place to be for fish. While Yukon would still advocate for his novice-stature as far as fisherman go, he nonetheless is one of the most trainable fisherman ever to haul on a pair of waders, much to the delight of our fishing friends. Right now he and his buddy D. are standing under a tree in one of the many Soldotna city campgrounds, gutting fish and drinking, um, beverages not normally consumed at 10 a.m. unless one is fishing. I know this because he told me so over a scratchy cell phone call a minute or so ago.

But back to the Run. Salmon, in case you don't know , return back to their native waters each year to spawn, dropping eggs in little hollows of creeks or rivers (Issaquah, WA, natives, pay attention, you of all people should know this) and then die a slow and stinky death along the shoreline. There are two important reasons for this activity: 1. So bears, particularly those in Alaska, have something to eat before hibernation, and 2. So fishermen and women can spend thousands of dollars within the travel and tourism industry to catch the biggest and best salmon known on this earth. Ha. My Wildlife Biology friends are probably cringing as they read. Sorry, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Salmon also come in various forms, and this is crucial information to know should you ever want to hang out with Real Alaskans. Kings (Chinook) are indeed Royalty among fish and are the first to arrive. Big, meaty, and sometimes elusive, these are the ones people pay big bucks to catch. Reds (Sockeye) come next, and in such a rushing crowd that crowds of humans collect like flies each summer to dipnet their abundant numbers (an Alaska resident thing; once we live here 360 days we are eligible for "subsistence" fishing and can collect 50-ish fish for personal use). Silvers (Coho) are third in the lineup. They are lovely, shiny, and active fish, making them oh, so fun to catch as they leap and jump on the line. Kids dig catching them, and many a fishing outfit touts the joy of taking kids fishing for Silvers. Pinks and Chum are at the back of the line. They get a bad rap as dog food, but hey, we smoke the Pinks and they aren't half bad, especially in the middle of winter when we crave seafood in any form. And it's salmon, for heaven's sake.

The Red Run is now. People are stampeding to the Kenai and Kasilof rivers to net and/or hook as many as they can before the Run slows down and we have to wait for the next one. It's sort of crazy; for as soon as the AK Department of Fish and Game signals the start, the Run is On and wowsers, every car or truck in the state is headed down the two-lane Seward and Sterling Highways for fish.

Yukon caught his limit on a line, finishing up this morning, so stinky Carhartts and all, he'll be home tonight. He was to be dip-netting from a boat today, but his other buddy's boat (it pays to know people with campers and boats here) has some mechanical problems so the day was significantly shortened.

But this is Alaska during fishing season; he'll be back next weekend as AK Fam does a trip that direction.

Let the Run continue. And don't let the fishing hook snag you in the behind on your way down.

1 comment:

Natalie said...

Yay for salmon, Issaquah natives, and those brave men and women and their beverages out there ensuring we have something to go with our dill mayo...hooray!