The Backwoods

Where we teeter between our love of modern convenience and the yearning for something long past; a world where neighbors knew your name and a “Friend Request” was eye contact and a smile.

On The Kenai

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Ignore the cheesy grin…I’m much better behind the camera!                        

I’ve spent the last two days at the mouth of the Kenai River dip netting Sockey (Red) Salmon from a boat.  It’s my version of “I’m broke so I gotta get food somewhere” and besides, I LOVE to dip net.  If you’ve no idea what I’m talking about…let me fill you in.

Pretty empty out there today…I’ve seen it thick like flies.

In Alaska, we have a huge subsistence lifestyle.  Many, many people live off the land, hunt and grow their own food and sustain their families with their own two hands.  I know many places where people live like that…we hunted a great deal in Oregon…but in Alaska, it’s quite a commonly accepted way of family life.

Mya, by far, my strongest minion…  

For a few weeks every year, two of our local rivers here on the Kenai Peninsula are open to resident dip netting.  That means, if you are a resident of Alaska and you pick up a free subsistence permit…as well as your paid for fishing license…you are allowed a certain number of fish via net based on the size of your family.

Appropriate…  

My family is allowed 105 fish.  My permit practically had to have an addendum to include all the members of my family…see page two…but we got us all on there and we’re determined to fill that quota.

So we borrowed a boat from a friend since I blew up the motor in my boat (see Without A Paddle) last summer.  The first night my brother and I each took our twelve years olds.  The second  night, he and I took his wife and my buddy, Sandi…my accomplice.

You think we’re trouble in a boat…you should have seen us in Vegas…  

 Here’s what is supposed to happen. We put in at the docks at the Kenai River, go up river a bit, then idle down the motor and drift along the edge with our nets in the water.  The nets are huge and heavy.  We tie a rope off between the bow of the boat and our net handle for extra support in keeping it straight in the current.  Fish swim into the net, we twist upwards to keep them from swimming back out, and we pull the net into the boat.  We dump the fish out, and do it all over again.

Here’s what really happens:

Boat goes up river.  Squeeze between  a hundred other boats.  Everyone around us catches fish.  Smarty pants in boat three feet away catches their limit in thirty minutes.  We watch.  Fish swims into net.  Net holder doesn’t move fast enough.  Fish swims out.  Another fish finally swims in.  I grab net to help.  Fish flies out an whacks me in the mouth. Tail tastes gross.  I get slimed.

Double the tangles when both sides bring them in at once.  

No…really.  Nets tangle.  Fish jump all around the boat and avoid giant nets.  Net handles break.  And ‘dead’ fish unlatch cooler chests and leap back out.

The first night we got thirty-five fish in about two hours which is by all means, not a bad day on the water.  Especially since we had the children to work as little slave minions.  Tonight we left the water with about twenty-five, mostly because the sun went behind the clouds and our whiny nature got the best of us until my brother…the driver…had had enough and dumped us back on the dock.

Takes loner to clean and fillet than to catch!  

 The highlight…at least for me if not for the eye-rollers in my boat…was when a woman in a boat nearby yelled out, ‘HEY, aren’t you Backwoods Mom!  I LOVE your blog!!!”  How “me” that my first time being recognized by a stranger in public as BMOM, I’m wind blown and coated in fish slime.   It was, without a doubt, a moment to remember. And…I think I’ve made a new friend.

My little Eskimo digs in the trash for the eggs.  I made him wait until they are cooked.  

So, sixty giant fish, two seal sightings, one fin in mouth, a paparazzi moment, and no less than six three-stooges scenes later, we made it through dip netting season fairly unscathed…and next year, we’ll anxiously do it all again.

 
 

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