Friday, August 14, 2009

The Salmon Are In!

Silver Salmon in AlaskaYou may be curious what the weather is like here in Alaska but those of us who live here know that the weather matters very little when the fish are in.

As in salmon.

You know you're a true Alaska when you can recite the different salmon runs and know which rivers hold which fish at what time.

The thing about salmon is that they spawn in the rivers and lakes then travel out to the ocean to grow and mature then come back up those same rivers to the place where they were born to mate and die. Remarkable really--to know exactly how to get back again and to go from fresh water to salt water and back to fresh water. How many men do you know who could find their way around like without asking directions?

This picture here is from several years ago when Andrew and I went with my Mom and Dad down to Seward (2 hours south on the Kenai Peninsula) for the annual Silver Salmon Derby.

They have derbies all over the place here but in Seward they have the biggest one every August when the silvers (or cohos) begin to come in from the ocean to make their way back up the rivers to spawn. A few are tagged and released so that you buy a ticket for the derby and if you catch the biggest fish or catch one of the tagged fish you get a prize.

King Salmon in AlaskaSilvers aren't the biggest of the salmon (not like the king--or chinook--salmon you see here at the left) or the best to eat (like the reds, aka sockeyes) but they're known for putting up a good fight and being fun to catch. Andrew and I went out the first day of the derby and hadn't planned on buying a derby ticket but did at the last minute. Less than an hour later he pulled in this 17.4 pound beauty you see above and claimed first place for opening day of the derby. He didn't win but I still think of it as one of those fun days that will always stick in my memory.

So the point is, there may be rain in Anchorage but it doesn't matter because right now "the silvers are in" and everyone worthy of being called an Alaskan knows exactly what that means.

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20 comments:

Jolanthe said...

the whole fresh water to salt water thing baffles me completely - how exactly can they handle that?

Heather said...

If we had such a thing here, I'd never see my husband. He's not a big salmon lover, but we love to fish!

Carina said...

Hmm. Oh yeah? Well...we have...uh...catfish. Catfish are pretty cool...in that bottom-feeding, smell like fish poo kind of way.

They're edible if you roll them in breading and deep fat fry them. =)

J at www.jellyjules.com said...

I'm proud to say I caught a salmon in Alaska once...it was a chum salmon, I think, and we ate it that night with broccoli that my SIL grew in her garden. Awesome. I did hate killing it, though, because I'm squeamish that way.

I remember the water being so crowded with fish that it looked like it was boiling.

I remember hearing that the fish are much better tasting if you get them before they spend much, if any, time in the fresh water on their way upstream. Is that true?

Karen said...

Oh, I'm jealous now. I love salmon! BTW, my nephew is leaving for Alaska today. He's going to spend the next year living and working there. I now have a reason to come visit -- maybe next year when the silver are in...

Lori said...

That fish is HUGE! He puts our little betta fish to shame, though if they were comparable, feeding time would be very scary!

Scribbit said...

Yes, Jules, you're right--the closer they get to spawning the more they break down and change. The sockeyes turn redder as they go and you don't want to get them when they're really red or they taste bad. Of course the bears don't mind and you'll see them eating fish in any particular way (hopefully you see them from very far away of course).

Dog (or chums) taste alright, but pink salmon (or humpies) as they age get this funny hump on their back and they're not good for eating.

My brother in law was up at my parents' cabin a week ago and the silvers were in where he caught seven. Andrew's thinking about taking a trip up there to stock up on some meat for the winter.

SarahHub said...

WOW! Those are huge! And hugely yummy, I bet!

Patricia Linehan said...

Should we expect to see lots of salmon recipes over the coming months? :)

Heart2Heart said...

Michelle,

So does that mean you all are headed out fishing???

WOW I love Salmon. I believe I would be out there fishing just so I can take some home and have it for quite some time. It's super expensive here in California for us to buy any.

Love and Hugs ~ Kat

Maddy said...

Salmon is my second favourite after prawns....er......shrimp. That said if it's fishy I'll devour it, always my first choice on the menu. Starter, main course and dessert, no problem.

That said, if I actually had to fish for it i.e. become wet and cold and do horrible things to a live animal, I'd just have to admit defeat and become a vegetarian.
Cheers

Mommy Cracked said...

Ever since I became hooked on Deadliest Catch I am obsessed with Alaskan fishing! Great post!

Rebecca said...

My husband just got home last night with our quota of 30 reds from the Copper. It's processing time! I love the sight of our yearly catch in the freezer :)

Jill in MA said...

Just this week I ate wild Alaskan salmon that I bought at the farmer's market here in Westford, Massachusetts! It was so delicious! That and your post really make me want to visit Alaska again for that much more delicious fresh-from-the-water salmon!

Thanks for teaching me more about salmon fishing and types of salmon!

Daisy said...

Mmmm, salmon -- Alaskan salmon!

Chrissy Johnson said...

Let me just tell you, a coworker of mine brought in some freshly smoked copper river salmon today and I felt like Gollum. ("How I wish to catch a fish...")

branda50 said...

We just got back from 2 weeks in Alaska...My husband went salmon and marlin fishing...We are waiting for the fish to arrive home...We had some froze and some vacuumed sealed...
I did hear some people say "the fish weren't in" but my husband and his buddy didn't have any trouble getting their limit...

Danielle a.k.a Yellie said...

Very cool! I find the whole finding the way back to that exact place very fascinating. Heck, I'm so bad with directions, I'm lucky to find my way home from a place I've never been before! LOL

Omah's Helping Hands said...

Some day I hope to go fishing in Alaska. My parents have and they absolutely loved it! Wow! and the pic. of that one just makes me want to do it even more. Being from a N. Central area, the cold and weather doesn't matter. We used to go snowmobiling in -40 below weather. You tell people that here and they look at you like you are nuts. Being stationed at Shemya, we would go beach combing no matter the weather. You just learn to live with it. Thanks for bringing back great memories. Can't wait to get out there again!

Alice Wills Gold said...

So they must fish them out before they hit the stream, right.

When i lived in tatitlek for the summer I remember going and seeing the salmon heading upstream..they were all so beat up....i learned early the love a parent has for their offspring (can't believe these fish are willing to do that)

don't know what kind of salmon we saw either...they must have NOT been king, they were much much smaller.

Love to learn of the local lingo.