June 12, 2017
Charlies Boat Yard
King Salmon, Alaska
Every year, two migrations take place in Bristol Bay. During the first migration, thousands of skippers, crewmen, and cannery workers make their way to two locations in Alaska: King Salmon and Dillingham. A few weeks later, they prepare for the second migration as tens of millions of wild, sockeye salmon return to their natal rivers.
As summer makes her debut, boat prep work begins in Bristol Bay. In order to harvest tens of millions of wild sockeye salmon, approximately 1,400 boats will be cleaned, prepped, and prepared for this coming season. Crews in every boatyard will scrape, wire brush, paint, replace worn hydraulic hoses, repair nets, and load groceries. Needless to say, there are plenty of bloody knuckles to go around. As old acquaintances are renewed and a story or two is told, a trip to the market or marine store inevitably takes longer than expected. Over time, though, conversations change. As the season gets closer, an underlying tone of earnesty can be felt as captains radio their crew members to discuss which river system they will choose to fish.
From start to finish, the entire process of trekking to Alaska, prepping our boats, and eventually throwing our nets into the water, is an annual ritual unlike anything else in the world. Quite simply, it is what we do and we love it!
Without a doubt, it is difficult to summarize the importance of Alaska’s fisheries in one short paragraph. Suffice to say, there are countless men and women who make Alaskan salmon fishing possible: the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG), regional and district managers, fish techs, counting tower and sonar operators, as well as their office staff, are the true stewards of the Bristol Bay wild salmon resource. For decades in the past—and continuing today—they have built a science-based management regime that is the poster child for responsible fisheries’ management planning, implementation, and stewardship.
Furthermore, these are not your typical government workers. Need a cup of coffee at 5 a.m. on July 4th? Every district biologist is at his or her desk, pouring over harvest and escapement numbers, answering phone calls, writing opening announcements, communicating with test fish boats, counting towers, and completing other tasks; best of all, their doors are always open. Fishermen are able to casually ask questions, voice concerns, etc. The major fish companies, who are responsible for buying and processing hundreds of millions pounds of wild sockeye salmon, rely heavily on constant communication with fisheries managers. As it turns out, they often make split-second decisions regarding their fishing and tendering fleet.
In essence, commitment and passion best describe how ADFG carries out their work in Bristol Bay. Every stakeholder has a brighter future because of their unwavering dedication.
Follow us on FB and Instagram and we’ll keep you informed as the 2017 season unfolds. Back to work for now!
— The Folks at Pride of Bristol Bay