After days of waiting for some action, subsistence fishermen on Naknek beaches were the first to find a push of sockeye Tuesday, some finding way more fish than they were hoping for.
The Naknek - Kvichak is the largest of Bristol Bay's five commercial fishing districts, and is expecting some 16 million sockeye to return this season. It has been slow to get going, lagging far behind some of the other districts. But that changed Tuesday when subsistence fishermen were the first to notice a whole lot of sockeye had arrived, and the commercial fleet was given notice of "openers" Tuesday afternoon.
AUDIO TRANSCRIPT: On Monday morning Pharrell DeSoto and his son’s only had two fish in their subsistence net. On Monday night it was 30 ... by Tuesday morning it was 117.
“Well last night there was a South East wind which is kind of unusual for a good fish tide and yeah we got about 30 fish and overnight without the fishermen fishing we were able to get about 1,000 pounds today," he said.
DeSoto says he caught more fish in this tide than all last season.
One fish they pulled out was chomped in half by a seal.
“They gotta eat too. This time of the year they can be a bit of a nuisance. But with the fish showing up and all the boats in the bay they can be a little bit of a problem. But they’re part of it too, so it’s all good.”
Down the beach Steven Angasan Jr. and Tyler Angasan were waiting with overflowing tubs of fish to load up in their dad’s car. They found clever ways to pass the time.
“We always play around at the beach and come down here when we’re not fishing. We usually have slings and whip them out into the water and try to hit buoys.” “So what was that game then?” “Oh we are just trying to hit the buoy.”
The Angasans were also surprised to find their 60 foot net full of fish this morning. Steven says they were expecting boat work today…not 200 fish.
“We were really surprised. Me and him were at home sleeping and waiting to come and work on the boat. I guess my Dad wasn’t really expecting it. Nobody was really expecting it.”
It took them an hour to pick the net. Steven says the rough waters last night might have brought in the fish, which was larger than they expected or necessarily needed.
Tuesday is the Angasan’s last day of subsistence fishing, as they are setting out on the water to commercial fish soon.