Weird Season: Bristol Bay Fishing Report

RourkeEliWell it was a bit of a strange season for salmon fishermen in Bristol Bay this year.  For a variety of reasons, the run came early, which led to some good early June fishing for the crews that were wise enough to start during free week.  It is possible a number of fish made it upriver before the fish counters were even in place, but by July 4th  escapement goals were technically not being met in the Naknek river so they held us Kvichak river fishermen back for a full 6 days until it was met. For those of you that don't know the lingo, "escapement" is the number of fish that Alaska Fish and Game requires make it upriver to ensure healthy runs for the future. Escapement for the Kvichak was 2 million this year. img120 img119 By the time we were fishing again the drifters had cleaned up most of the bay of the remaining big groups of fish, so it was scratch fishing from then on out. But even with low catch numbers the season was sort of saved by a 50 cent per lb. price increase, the biggest increase in a long, long time. But hey "that's why they call it fishing" is something that people seem to say for no reason, so despite it all Graveyard was as lively as ever and many good times were had. netimg114 img111 photo (24) img118 A fisherman from a small village up the Kvichak brought a litter of puppies to Graveyard this year. Of course many of us were suckers and started feeding the little wandering warriors. img137 photo (21) photo (20) It seemed like I made a big mistake when I first got her, we were fishing long hours at the time and I had to try to keep her quiet while my crewmates were sleeping. But soon after they shut us down, so there was plenty of time for puppy attention pupp photo (19) Nakeen the pup came out fishing towards the end of the season, she fell in the bay and then I fell in trying to grab her. Here we are drying off in the 11pm sunset webchad I brought up some flash bulbs from the 50's that my grandfather had passed on to me, hooked it up to my 35 mm and gave it a shot during the few night tides we had. Unfortunately that damn puppy chewed the one part of the bulb box with the chart on it, so I was kinda winging it. I only had a handful of bulbs to try, but here are some of the results. img142 Tricky gauging distance on drifting boats at night. blured web1 I'll have to track down some more bulbs and give it a shot again next year, its fun blinding friends. img129 img122 img132At the very end of the season we made our annual exploration at hightide, this year returning to Nakeen, an abandoned cannery upriver, which I had not been to for a few years. Its the same place I got some old salmon boxes years ago, which then turned into paintings. Anyways, thanks for reading, time to get back to the studio life, technology, microwaves, and all that.  

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