Yesterday, July 1, marked the first opener for set-netters in the Naknek district. A seven and a half hour period from 8:30am to 4:00pm. Our whole crew is here now, all ten of us, and the first-timers were anxious to get out on the water. We awoke early to a beautiful and peaceful morning on the Bay. Slightly overcast with a light breeze, perfect fishing weather. We made our way to Memaw's cabin, enticed by the sweet aroma of the freshly brewed coffee she had waiting for us. Together we sat around the table, facing the ocean, watching Bald Eagles as they flew by to bid us good morning, sharing our excitement for the adventure to come, and treating our taste buds as Dana's delicious sourdough pancakes filled our bellies.
It was time. We slipped on our waders, our boots, our neoprene sleeves, raincoats, and gloves. Double checked each other for our IDs and fishing licenses and made our way down the bluff to the awaiting mud below. This mud is like quicksand; desperately clinging to each foot as it sinks two feet below the surface, we must move steadily and sure-footed. Out to the far boats we go, ready to drop our nets as soon as the clock strikes 8:30. It's like a starting line. A series of skiffs, parallel to each other and filled with anxious crewmen dot the shore and like a silent starter gun, :28, :29: 30 and we take off. The next seven hours is like a school field trip, filled with lessons on how to safely maneuver the boat, how to easily decipher the puzzle of fish caught in the net, how to properly handle each sockeye to ensure the best quality. Tips on crewmen etiquette, communication, and teamwork, and how to laugh and enjoy every moment on the boat with friends, giving thanks to each fish as it blesses our nets. By the time 4 o'clock rolled around, we had filled several brailer bags with fresh fish and minds with lots of new information and experience. Satisfied with the success of the first tide, we pulled our nets and made our way back up the bluff to enjoy a hot bowl of Salmon Chowder and a well-deserved nap.
Bristol Bay is one of the most vibrant, diverse, and beautiful ecosystems on the coast of Alaska and our fishing site is nestled right in the middle of it all. One of the many animals that visit this area every year is the Beluga Whale. Belugas are white, medium sized whales that travel in large groups. They are known as "sea canaries" due to their extensive repertoire of whistles, grunts, and clicks. They also use echolocation to navigate under the ice, find prey in murky waters, and communicate across watery distances. Every year they visit this area to feast on the smelt and they often pass right by our cabin when the tide is high. This morning we had a 23ft tide, high at 9am. The water line laps at the bottom of the staircase that carries us 35ft up the bluff to our cabins, which gives us the perfect vantage point for viewing the ocean and the Belugas. A ways out off the shore appeared a long, white line of Beluga backs. Unlike other whales, such as Humpbacks, Belugas only slightly surface out of the water, showing only a portion of their back. They travel in a single file line back and forth between river inputs where baby salmon are heading out to sea. It is quite a site to wake up to and such a great reminder of how amazing this ecosystem is.
One of the most important things to us is that our customers feel connected to and confident in the source and quality of their food. We want to connect with you too and as we begin this 2016 fishing season we are committing to reserve this space just for that!
This blog will be filled with stories, recipes, photos, information, and answered questions. A platform to connect you to every person and aspect behind our Wild Sockeye Salmon. We are filled with excitement as this season unfolds and hope that you will follow along with us on this journey!