A lifestyle blog about life and living in Southeast, Alaska.
August 24, 2016
Today was a good day. It was a needed day. Although both kids were crying as my husband and I got out of the driveway to drive the 25 miles to get to our jet boat up the highway. It turned into a good day. Loralai finally fell asleep in the car and I found a toy race car for Charlie to play with (instead of my iPhone) as we drove. I could hear Charlie in his little pretend voice with his car and pretending to jump over the trees that we passed along the highway.
We got to our boat launch site at 25 mile and I helped my husband back our boat trailer into the water and I sent him and my son off down the river to meet Loralai and I at a nice sandy beach on the other side. If the kids got cold or tired we could spend the afternoon there. Now, if you have ever been in Alaska you know how back roads and trails can easily lead you stray. I had that realization today as Loralai and I had to take a back road near the 25 mile flats. My friends once told me to never travel in Alaska unless you have a survival kit in the back of your car. Well I didn't and my husbands directions simply were, go across the bridge, turn at the DOT sand pile and then you will know your way from there. I did, I mean I have drove this way a dozen or more times with my husband but I never had done it by myself, nor paid attention to all the forks in the road. So the first road I took, led me to a huge pond, the second led me to a gravel crushing site, and finally the 3rd road let me to our beach. I wasn't really "lost" but there was a moment of panic that was brewing in my mind if my 3rd option didn't pan out.
None the less I found our beach and just in time for my husband, father-in-law and Charlie to pull up in the boat and start getting our subsistence net ready to put into the water. If you're a resident in Alaska, subsistence fishing is a way of life. And as it says in the Alaska Department of Fish and Game overview, you may harvest salmon for "noncommercial, customary, and traditional uses". We were harvesting salmon today to make "fresh pack" for the winter. It's salmon that's been processed, cooked through a pressure cooker, and sealed in glass jars. We use it for dips, spreads, fish patties, the possibilities are endless really. We actually just got done smoking and pressure cooking subsistence salmon and I will blog about that soon!
Subsistence fishing is one of my favorite things. The valley and river where you fish is beautiful and I love being surrounded by mountains and soaring eagles, keeping a careful eye on the fish you catch. The net is 30 ft (I will clarify with my husband, but right now he is sleeping) in length and consists of mesh web that is tied between a heavy lead line which hangs on the bottom and cork line that floats on the top. As the fish swim into the net, they are caught by the gills and unable to get out. You then either pull the net in over the bow of the boat, being careful not to get it hung up off a cleat or you can head to a sand bar and drag the net there and pick the fish out. Subsistence fish must also have their dorsal fins cut off at the time of the harvest.
This was Loralai's first time drifting the river and Charlie is now old enough to really catch on to how the process works. Every time we pulled the net in to the boat, Charlie's job was to count how many we caught and Loralai would do her little happy fish dance and laugh with excitement of catching a "fishy". I am thankful that my kids get to grow up this way. They get to learn to forage, provide for their families, and love what Alaska has to offer them and our family. For that I am simply, happy.
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!