May 8, 2009
As I am already running around realizing I am not only weeks but probably a month behind on some things I realize Ann and I have to keep you “in the loop” so will better understand why we might “drop out of the loop” at times this spring and summer.
Fishing for us in Bristol Bay, and maybe most other places in Alaska from what I hear, is one of much planning but always of feeling like you are behind.
At the end of the season most try to do a number of things to make the following spring easier but to be honest you are usually so tired not as much gets done as should. Also ALL those other things you did not get time to do over the fishing season to either take care of your home/equipment or put up food for your family must get done before freeze up.
Most people think; freeze up- cold weather, spend more time inside. Freeze up also means outside building are usually no longer even slightly comfortable to work in except for VERY short periods, any construction usually comes to a halt or moves totally indoors, equipment doesn’t like to start when you want, any fuel issues- like not flowing – will show up, everything freezes to the ground from a stray hose to a dropped glove and generally just getting around for work purposes becomes hard.
So, when spring arrives, right now almost mid May, with days in the 40s or higher but nights in the high 20’s, we are out and moving to get things going. By now I am lucky enough to have all my fishermen/assistants hired something that is so darn important!! (Lucked out with getting Segundo hired!!) We are lucky in two ways in that we have a local man who has been running our daily fishing operation for us so we can concentrate on the processing operation. He splits duties with us so our prep work is less and also he handles the majority of the full time fishermen.
We still have to purchases nets, and lines if needed, get quarters set up, generators gone through and boats prepped. One of the first things that gets done is “nets”. Although we all fish salmon in this village and bay we fish with a huge variety of different ‘gear’.
We fish for three different species of salmon; Chinook, Sockeye and Coho that require at least three different sizes of nets, one for each species. Actually it can require 2-4 different sizes for EACH species of salmon.
The nets come in a bundle of just the web and then must be strung onto the line that goes along the top, the cork line, and also the bottom, the lead line.
IF you are very good, experienced and determined you can get a 300 fathom (about 1800 feet) net hung in about 2 days. VERY long tiring days. Now think of 3 kinds of salmon, with at least 2 different sized nets for each. Multiply that times the main nets, back up nets and if you can a third set.
It is fascinating when you look at all the different skills, gear and experience you need to even think of fishing for a living. If you set net, as we do, and might be doing more than one ‘site’, as we do, it involves all that times how many sites. You get the picture. Nets are a big thing here.
As we prep for the season, Ann and Segundo arrive and we move into all these tasks we will try and share them with you. Our hope is for you to learn a little more about how we live and why we choose to continue this lifestyle. Like farming, mechanics, machinists, plumbers, wood workers and so many other skills it is a long time in learning and hard to attract new people to it.