Thursday, August 16, 2012

Salmon Salmon Salmon

Chitina, view of the silty river

Every summer we gear up fishing season.  We live approximately 6 hours (driving with kids) away from Chitina and the mighty Copper river.  This is the spot to get the world famous and also best salmon in the world.  We attempt to get our limit of reds aka Sockeye every year.  Chitina is one of the many breath taking places in Alaska.  It is known for it's beauty and deadly fishing grounds.  There are several ways you can fish some are easy fun, and the others present a great challenge.  I prefer to drink beer in a wind shelter (because it's windy and very silty sandy) while watching the fish wheel go around and around throwing fish into the basket.  The real danger in using the fish wheel is walking out to the wheel to retrieve the fish (not recommended after beer).This way of fishing is well saught out and you have to be in the know usually to get onto a wheel.  It is very hit and miss for me and never a sure deal.  The second easiest way to catch your fish is with a dipnet in a back eddie tied off in a nice riverboat with a skilled captain.  If the fish are running you are catching.  You can also sweep from the boat with a dipnet.  Sweeping is a little more technical and you risk losing your net on the rocks.  You essentially troll while dragging the net.  The most common way of fishing is dipnetting off a cliff.  Some of the best fishing holes you have to scale a rock wall with a huge dipnet and tie off with a rope.  If you fall into the Copper river, chances are you are not coming back out.  We take four wheelers out the trail and walk down to the river and hopefully catch fish and then pack them back up the mountain.  It's worth every bit of sweat and exursion.

This trail gets pretty hairy but if you can make and have the determination to fish it's FUN.  This is my boys posing for mom.  This is where the DMV closes off the trail for vehicles.
The mighty Copper River from my view as I gave up dipnetting.  :)
This is a picture of my brother in law dipnetting.  He was gracious enough to take me out night netting with him while my husband watched the kiddos at camp.  You can see this is no place for chitlins.  The green rope is tying off the net so he doesn't lose it in the deadly current.  July - 2012

This picture is from August when my husband bombed down and back in one day.  He literally fished for 5 hours and caught his limit of 40.

Okay, this next picture is me cleaning the fish in the backyard.  Call me crazy...haha....but I LOVE to clean salmon.  I am very good at it and I just love salmon.

A close up of operation Sockeye....

This cooler took two of us to lift.  This is 110 pounds of pure awesome.  My mouth just waters looking at this picture

Sushi?  Yes we did.  My hubby grabbed some soy sauce and diced up some fresh salmon for us to snack on as a wonderful treat while I was busting a move on those bad boys.  This is sushi Alaskan Native style.

My husband was pretty proud of this fillet.  I mean come on, wouldn't you be?  It's pretty spectacular!

The big huge challenge.............I had two of these going and I've used these for the last two summers and they overheat and they are a real pain in the @ss!!!   I think my face flushes just looking at this picture.

The solution!  That same brother in law I featured earlier became my hero in about 37 seconds after the first use of this monster.  This food saver I think he said was $750.00.  Worth every darn penny in my opinion.  In fact, I'm pining for one.  :)  Then there is always that well if he has one we can use...why buy one in the back of my mind.  At any rate, if you process a lot of meat this is the way to go.  It saved my life that night.

6 hours after I started filleting my first fish my end result was 110lbs of packaged pure awesomeness.

But no I wasn't done yet. 

These fish were exceptionally large and had a lot of meat on the back bone still so I canned a lot of it for sandwiches and spreads this winter...doesn't this look delightful??? mmm mmm mmmm

Well, operation Sockeye took me 9 hours in total.  I finished up around 12:30 am and I loved almost every minute of it.  I also made some blueberry jam in that time I was waiting on the pressure cooker.  It was a good harvest. 

Nothing beats this on the dinner table...nothing.   My reward. 

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