“Salmon Memories”

(Photo via The Salmon Project)
(Photo via The Salmon Project)

My brother Lee and I were excited about the new big boat. Dad said “Let’s get going,” yet somehow we understood “I’ll meet you there.” Fifteen minutes later, a mile and a half from shore, Dad was so small waving his arms in his dark coat. I pointed and Lee looked, then we turned around.

Mom and Dad grew up in rural Alaska and lived mostly off the land. We would catch numerous fish and either have them for dinner or make salmon jerky (a.k.a. fish strips). You can make jarred salmon, pickled salmon, fish scale jewelry and even Eskimo ice cream. We had a dog team and dried fish for the dogs to help with food expenses. Over the years, our salmon harvesting skills were honed and became important.

The kings were running. The demeanor of the village changed gears almost instinctively. Dad and I made haste to the waters knowing the time had come. We cast our nets thrice yet only a couple were caught. Dad wanted a break so I invited my friend. He and I went to a different spot downriver. We casted the net once and got ourselves six huge kings. Good thing Dad taught us to wrap the dog fish net around the kings in the water while bringing them in otherwise sometimes they would get loose. It’s cool how some big kings are red and some are purple. Happy trails!

Written by Jacob.

The Salmon Project is about Alaskans and our deep, personal relationships with wild salmon. It’s about our connections to salmon, as a food, as a source of pride, as a way of life, and as the focus of a lot of fun.

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