Wild Salmon, Wild Wind
Ahhh the warm and sunny southwest winds, typical August blows that bring schools of salmon to our nets in large volume. They spell relief from the overcast and rainy skies which our island, sticking out in the Gulf of Alaska, catches a lot of, but it's not all leisurely tropical.
A true southwest storm means building waves pushing thousands of fish into the path of Adelia's net in particular, with Tollef being in the lee on the opposite side of the bay. There, the winds are offshore, but with steep mountains rising directly from the ocean, a phenomenon known as williwaws can become pretty nautical, even more dangerous than steel waves. Imagine a mini tornado with 100-mile per hour winds whipping water so hard it's hard to breathe. Now imagine trying to go to work in it in small aluminum boats. We have to be on our A-game 100% of the time in those conditions.
Adelia’s side of the bay receives the full force of the waves built up across the miles, which also push fish, kelp and jellyfish into her net as well. She and her crew have been working hard this last week, crashing through the waves, spray drenching them, working muscles and fingers to a buzzing state of overdrive. No question it is an all-out effort to be out on the water, pulling in boatloads of fish by hand. But it is also a dance, an altered state of consciousness even, where the mental peripheral thoughts fall away and our world becomes at once laser focused. As we pour everything we have into fishing, we are always aware of the cosmic enormity of the natural salmon run, the wild ocean, a wide sky, and the tempestuous wind.
Today is Alaska’s Wild Salmon Day, one close to the heart of our lifestyle. Every day out here is a celebration of wild salmon, and indeed, our deep love of wild salmon and the fishing lifestyle is what drives much of our lives. Choosing to focus on our fishing in Uganik Bay is truly what brought us together as Soul Mates initially, so this particular day is in essence a reminder to celebrate not only the salmon that sustains us but also the shared love of the encircling world we inhabit.
There are other aficionados in bay enjoying another salmon feast, currently residing in the "front yard.” Their presence is made known by big black fins slicing through the water as they come to up to breathe. It’s surely impressive to think about those beautiful glistening orcas subsisting on a pescatarian diet. They are as much a part of wild salmon day as we are, a reminder, yet again, to appreciate the wonderful living art that is the salmon migration.
-Tollef and Adelia