Harvesting Copper River Reds

Last week we joined several other Alaskans harvesting beautiful Copper River Red Salmon on the Copper River. The day was hot by Alaska standards and the river was running high. With temperatures in the seventies, glaciers and snow at higher elevations melt, causing the water to rise. It had risen six inches overnight. We learned that salmon stop running upstream as the water rises because the water they are seeking in their “home” stream becomes too diluted for them to follow. They slow their assent and lull about until the water level goes back down and the concentration of their stream becomes stronger in the river.

The limit for salmon this year was thirty per household. We caught fifteen in seven hours. The week before, friends of ours caught one hundred fish in a day, fishing for three families.

We drive about 150 miles from our house by pickup, then about seven miles on a trail with a four-wheeler, then we hike down a very steep bank to the silty river and put the net in the water. We can’t see the net in the water because of the silt, but when a fish swims into it the pole jerks and we lift it out of the water. There is nothing like fresh Copper River Red Salmon!

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