Tag Archives: salmon
We have circled around once again to the day we officially celebrate the wild salmon here in Alaska. It can not be stressed enough how this aquatic migrator is vital to both Alaska’s economy and psyche.
Festivities can be found throughout Alaska today. Events include everything from catching & cleaning, to preparing our favorite fish. I’m sure you can even find some salmon poetry if you look for it.
So, grab that rod and get out on a river bank or climb over the gunwales and wet your line. The salmon are running.
Salmon carcasses have been found in large numbers from Norton Sound, all the way up the Yukon River drainage.
Reports of children being able to catch chums with their hands in the Yukon are also coming in. The salmon appear to be completely disorientated.
On one bank of the Koyukuk, over 100 dead chum salmon were counted.
Fish & Game officials, as well as residents along the rivers report that when cut open, the salmon still have eggs or sperm inside. That means that they have not spawned yet.
The best guess right now is that the high water temperatures have stressed the salmon out before they can reach their spawning grounds. The waters of Norton Sound, the Koyukuk River and the Shaktoolik River are all well above average. The water temperatures for the Yukon River have been at the highest level ever recorded this summer.
It’s Alaska’s third annual Wild Salmon Day. Events and salmon barbecues are being held throughout the state today. Get out and enjoy some wild Alaska salmon.
Back from our fishing trip to Seward, Alaska. Here are just a few of the Seward Sights:
Upon arrival, we hit the beach in late afternoon to wet our lines. This seagull watched patiently, hoping we would eventually catch it a salmon dinner.
Apparently, Seward is the Mural Capital of Alaska, a tidbit that had eluded me up until this past week. This one graces the wall of The Fish House, which is a great place to pick up any gear that one leaves in Fairbanks. It is also a pretty kick-ass hardware store.
Seward is the southern terminus for the Alaska Railroad. Across the street from the little depot, is one of the best breakfast places in town, called The Smoke Shack. This small diner is located in a complex known as The Train Rec. Made up of several retired Alaska Railroad cars, The Train Rec has a great view of the harbor.
The salmon reports continue to be bad. Alaska Fish & Game shut down king salmon fishing on the famed Kenai River. It had been down to catch & release on the Kenai, but now even that is closed. The latest closure has the entire river shut down for the remainder of June, at that time the lower portion of the Kenai would open, but the upper river would remain closed.
An extremely poor return of adult kings to the river prompted the closing. As of 17 June, only 2182 kings had swam past the Fish & Game’s sonar counter.
This is the second major closing of salmon fisheries in as many weeks.
Alaska’s famed Copper River is seeing a brutal return number of salmon so far this summer. The return is so low, that an emergency order closing the Chitina area to dipnetting was issued last week. Since statehood, Alaska has never closed the river to dipnetters.
This is a blow to Alaskans and their freezers.
During an average summer, 7000 Alaskans head to Chitina to dipnet the Copper River. 170,000 salmon are caught this way every year.
Dipnetting is an Alaskan tradition, since only residents can get a license to dipnet. It’s how many fill their freezers with salmon for the year, and Interior Alaskans in particular, love making the drive to Chitina for this special personal use fishery.
This really is historic, and it has a lot of people on edge. Biologists have pointed blame at “The Blob”, which was a large mass of unusually warm water that took up residence in the Gulf of Alaska from 2014 to 2016.
Commercial fisheries are also feeling the heat, as they saw the second lowest take in 50 years. The commercial fishery was shut down in May by the Alaska Fish & Game.
There is nothing easy about dipnetting The Copper. The river roars past the steep banks, forcing dipnetters to tie themselves off to rocks or trees to keep from being dragged into the deadly cold water. It’s a helluva workout, holding that huge net out into the flowing water, and if a king hits that net, hold on! It’s quite the experience, and you will sleep well at the end of a long day in the river.
Not to be outdone, the Ship Creek King Salmon Derby in Anchorage saw their worst year yet. The contest on Ship Creek has been held since 1993, and they had the smallest king ever win the derby at less than 29 pounds. Only 98 kings were entered into the derby total, when in past years they saw that number entered in a day. The winning angler still walked away with $4000 worth of gold & silver.
Needless to say, the price of salmon will be going up.
The official motto of Seward: Alaska Starts Here
I was finally able to escape for a few days and get some fishing in, so some friends and I headed south to Seward to chase some cohos. The silver run was winding down, but we still hit some pockets, and had a great day out on the water.
Seward’s population is just over 2500, but it swells during the summer with people coming to fish or just see the sights. As many as 40,000 come into the tiny port town for the July 4th festivities, which include the running of Mount Marathon.
In 1793, Alexander Baranov started a fur trading post at Resurrection Bay, where the city now stands. Seward is Mile 0 for the historic Iditarod Trail. In 1964, the city was virtually destroyed by the Good Friday Earthquake, which struck Alaska. Much of the damage was caused by the tsunami that hit immediately after the shaker.
As recently as 2011, Seward was the ninth most profitable fishing port in the U.S. We did all right for a late run. Most of the salmon we caught were silvers, but we hooked into a few pinks as well. In an unfortunate turn, one member of the boat caught a puffin. The first time I had seen that happen. The puffin was deep, probably after some of the chum in the water, and I think everyone was surprised to see feathers break the surface of the water, and not scales, when the puffin was reeled in. We brought the bird on board, and I held the colorful diver, while the boat’s captain removed the hook from its wing. Once released, the puffin flew off with no signs of distress.
After a day of fishing, we hit Thorn’s Showcase Lounge. I apologize to Thorn’s: the first time I saw the building, I immediately thought it was a strip club, and not wholly due to the sign out front that reads: “Bucket of Butts”. Thorn’s does serve up the best halibut in Seward, and they have an extensive collection of old liquor bottles in all shapes and sizes.