Here in Haines we have two major rivers that host all five salmon species; Chinook, Coho, Chum, Sockeye, and Pinks. And with that we get lots of fish! The native village of Klukwan has fished in the Chilkat River for a very long time and it's a part of their culture, and the culture of many native Alaskans throughout the state. So what Fish and Game does is issue subsistence fishing permits for salmon. To get one of these permits you need to be an Alaskan resident, and you'll know when you are when you get that beloved PFD check in the mail every fall. There are only certain areas that you can subsistence fish for salmon in the state and it tends to be small towns. You couldn't sustainably have subsistence fishing in a town like Juneau where the population is 30,000 and everyone is bringing home 50 sockeye. Here in Haines subsistence fishing is done with a gill net. In the river the gill net can't exceed 50 feet and you can either have a set net that you tend to the whole time it's in the water, or you can use a boat and drift the river. You can also fish in the ocean, these nets can't exceed 300 feet, and you need a boat to fish in the ocean.
Anyway, last weekend I went fishing with a co-worker and was able to bring home 10 sockeye! We fished for three hours and got 21 sockeye and kept one pink, they make good crab/shrimp/halibut bait. It ended up being a looooong night. We fished for three hours, I was the fish picker, and pulled them out of the net and killed them. Someone else drove the boat and another person worked the net, the system worked pretty well. By the time I got home it was 8:00PM and we hadn't cleaned the fish still. So I grabbed Jeremy and Gus and we went down to the boat harbor to clean and fillet the fish.
Jeremy taught me how to fillet my very first fish! I did pretty well too if I do say so myself :) While I was filleting I would give Gus little chunks of fish from the backbone. He loved that. We tired giving him a whole carcass and then a whole fish head but he couldn't really figure out what to do with them. His inner wolf wasn't coming out. We finished filleting and that brought us to around 9:30ish, and we decided to pack everything that night. By the time we went to bed it was 11:00. The next day I had to replace a couple of bags that didn't seal, but we are going to be eating well this winter, and I'm looking forward to that. I would like to catch a few more fish and do a case of cans and maybe we'll smoke a few.
We love living here and fish has been becoming more and more prevalent in our diet. So getting these fish to put in the freezer is definitely a good feeling.