Salmon fishing in the Kuskokwim was one of the things we had looked forward to the most on our trip. It’s a large part of the native Alaskan culture, and I grew up around fishing… my dad even had a fishing show (yes, on tv!). I had never been gill-net fishing before, so this was a new experience for me.
When we arrived fishing was closed. Some said it was for the King (Chinook) stocks, and some said it was for the Chum stocks. It doesn’t really mater, either way it wasn’t happening!
Then, we got lucky. On July 4 they decided to open up fishing for 4 hours right beside Bethel. Yeah!! We were going fishing after all!
I was excited to experience something that has become such a big part of Krystle’s life.
Randy was excited just to fish (typical male).
The girls were excited to go for a boat ride!
There’s very little commercial fishing on the Kuskokwim river, it’s mostly subsistence fishing. Since we aren’t residents of Bethel, technically we weren’t allowed to do anything. We couldn’t touch the net, touch the fish, or drive the boat. Net fishing is pretty tricky with only 2 people. The river has a current so someone needs to drive the boat at all times, and the net gets twisted up making it difficult for one person to get it into the water. Krystle did awesome with a bit of “encouragement” from us!!
Net fishing is a little bit of excitement, followed by a bunch of waiting, followed by a little bit of excitement. We had a good day and it didn’t take long before we watched one of the white buoys bouncing in the water. We caught a fish…we hoped. Sometimes they wriggle out of the net, so you don’t really know if you have it until you pull in the net, and it’s so much effort to get the net out that you wait until you think you’ve got a few before pulling it in. It’s a lot of waiting, watching and hoping.
After about 30min the girls started getting restless. We were pretty sure there was at least one fish in the net so we decided to pull it in. Of course, Randy just watched!
We pulled in 2 small but still good sized fish, and were pretty happy with them…and then we pulled up the last one. It was a giant!!
At first we thought it was a Red due to the skin colour, however after some googling we found out that it was actually a spawned Chinook (King). It was about twice the size of the other two…no wonder they call it a King!!
It was a pretty good haul for our 30min of net time, so we decided to call it quits and head to the shore to filet the fish, and get off the water before it started to rain!
We were all very happy with our day’s catch. It was a little bit of work and a lot of fun!
Next up is our adventures at Fish Camp. What is Fish Camp you ask? You’ll have to stay tuned to find out!!
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