Sunday, July 24, 2011

"It doesn't get any better than this!"

Saturday, July 23
It seems like a couple times each day someone says, "It doesn't get any better than this!" Whether we are having smoked salmon and cream cheese on bagels for breakfast by the river, catching and cleaning salmon or finishing the day with grilled salmon and cold Alaskan Amber and a bonfire by the river! All six of us are counting our blessings!
It's been an incredible week, we have been catching, cleaning and freezing salmon all week. We have close to 175 pounds of salmon fillets to ship home. Ed was gracious enough to share his techniques with us, as well as some equipment and the vacuum packer!

Fishing activities took up most of our days this week. Here is the process for catching Red Salmon (aka sockeye) on the Kenai River. 

  1. Master the Kenai Flip to drag your lure thru the water and catch a salmon;
  2. Fight the salmon up to the dock and net it;
  3. Whack the salmon on the head to put him out of his misery;
  4. Make a slit in the gills, put it on a stringer and throw it in the water to “bleed” the fish;
  5. Make another 10-15 more flips while you’re waiting for the fish to be ready to fillet;
  6. Fillet the fish – ending with 4 nice chunks of salmon;
  7. Wrap in Cling Wrap and put them in the freezer for 3 or 4 hours until they begin to freeze - unless you are going to eat it for dinner, then put it in the marinade in the fridge!
  8. Use a vacuum sealer to package each piece individually;
  9. Buy big ol’ insulated shipping boxes at the Trustworthy Hardware and Fishing Store
  10. Try to figure out how much salmon will fit in a box for shipping;
  11. Bring the box to the processor for overnight FedEx (and be eternally grateful to your children who will receive the box and get it to your freezer!)

Jean, Pete and I did manage a trip to the Robin’s Place Quilt Shop in Soldotna though.  Ed took us for a boat ride up the river.  Their cabin is at Mile #42 – measured from where the river empties into Cook Inlet.  Lots of other folks fishing on the river, we have a premier spot to fish with exceptional facilities!

We also drove into town for dinner on Thursday evening and stayed to listen to Hobo Jim – Alaska’s Official Balladeer.  A fun show with music, a bit of Alaskan culture & some slightly off color songs and toasts thrown in!
Pete, Ed and Kodi are headed back to Yelm, Washington on Saturday.  Thank you! And safe travels, we'll miss you. 
Today we are driving up to the town of Kenai for a little sightseeing, tomorrow we'll go down to Homer. The traffic and business in Soldotna is crazy busy today, seems like that will be the case for the next two weeks. Stores are sold out of cling wrap, shipping boxes, and vacuum seal bags.
On the way to town we saw 3 moose, nothing close enough for pictures, but they are here.  On the way back with saw a moose with her calf eating in the ditch and we were able to get a few pictures before the traffic behind us piled up too badly. 
In Kenai we drove to an overlook where we could see hundreds, no thousands, of people camped and fishing in the mouth of the river.  The technique there is called dip netting – you must be a resident Alaskan to get a permit for dip netting.  Long lines of people are lined up along the bank and it looked like they slowly made their way downstream with what look like HUGE landing nets in the water trying to scoop up fish – and it works!  These nets are about 5 feet across, I can’t imagine dragging them through the river or pulling a fish out with one! 

We’ll stay here at “Fish Camp” again tonight, make a day trip to Homer tomorrow (Sunday) and on Monday go down to Seward for a couple of days.
Sunday Night - just back from Homer. Jean and I are sitting in McDonalds' while the guys gas up and make one last visit to the Hardware Store.  Will write about our Homer visit and more in the next few days.


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