Patience Is Gotten By Practice
This year is following its own path of weather patterns and fish returning. The early Karluk sockeye run hasn’t brought us boat loads of fish, but the Alaska Department of Fish and Game has gotten the escapement numbers needed to ensure the return of future sockeye salmon. So this year as we open and close, open and close, we flex our patience muscles and savor being out here, slowly putting together our pounds of sockeye fillets for our catch share members and future customers come winter, and finding time for projects and deep repairs that we haven’t had in more than two summers.
Kodiak has different species of salmon come through over the course of three and a half months, so we can make a living at it either through early sockeyes, pinks and chums mid-season, or late sockeyes and cohos in the fall. Each run has its own energy. For example, pinks typically build up to a peak of concerted madness and highly focused effort to stay on top of thousands of three-pound fish hitting the net. But that doesn’t happen until late July through the middle of August, so for now, we relish the calm pace, the days we do get to lay our nets in the water, and the down time for living beyond the web of purposeful commercial fishing.
With time off in June, something we haven't had for a couple of years, appreciation for life around us flourishes. From the cliffside, we've seen a grey whale pass by in its slow deliberate dives and kingfishers plunging and swooping over the water. One favorite evening activity is to fill the old metal bathtub on the beach with mountain stream water, light a small driftwood fire under it and, when it gets hot, get in for a long open-air soak, melting knots built up from storms and tight lines out of our backs and shoulders. The pulse of our bay fills the senses, waves meeting the shore, the surf tumbling rocks into gravel, gravel into sand. The different types of clouds signify changes in the weather, and a dab of the distant mainland illuminated by the setting sun perfects the evening.
While the mountains flow with misty caps of clouds and the ocean underneath props up the whole show, our people in the bay, too, play an important part in the rich tapestry. We’ve been visiting for dinner with neighbors, maintaining decades long, or even lifelong friendships. Many of the site owners have been here for 30 plus years or, like us, have morphed from crewmembers into the role of experienced skipper. The solstice party is a big one; most of the 75 or so people who fish here in the summer show up to the giant potluck. Old and young enjoy the chance to mingle and catch up. Heaps of pans filled with what people have put extra effort into bring joy to the eaters. With a glass of wine or a mason jar of cold clean mountain water, we toast, “Here’s to you, Neptune and Gaia.”