From my humble observations the commercial salmon industry in Alaska is without a doubt the best managed fishery on the planet. As I’ve stated in earlier posts the state keeps eagle eyes on the industry with the ability to micro manage every step of the way. These fish, while ultimately end up being served for dinner, are given the “royal” treatment and are well respected by all who come in contact with them. The wild salmon you may serve for dinner this February will most likely have been caught during the short 60 to 90 day fishing season here in Alaska, pretty amazing.
The fishing season begins the end of May with the Gill, Drift and Set-netters getting first dibs on the runs. During the early season the main area of activity in terms of offloading the salmon from these fisher-persons is in Whittier. I could write several posts on Whittier as the place is like no other; for instance the only vehicular access is thru a two mile long one-way traffic tunnel which is shared with train traffic. And 99.99% of the 215 or so residents live in the single 15 story “Begich” building which was constructed in 1957. The entire “area” was initially built during WWII by the US Government and later incorporated into a “town”. In addition to the town being home to a complex “tunnel” system there are a few restaurants, bars, a single store, an inn and a combo hardware – marine supply – liquor store (hey it’s Alaska). Most of the “cargo” Anchorage receives passes thru Whittier as it’s serviced by the Alaskan Railway with only 80 or so miles separating the two. And during summer tourist season large cruise ships pull in every Wednesday and Saturday, surreal.
We spent close to two weeks in Whittier and the place kinda grew on me. First off the scenery is off the charts. In addition to the constant roar from all the waterfalls cascading down from the surrounding glaciers the chicken wings, burgers and 20 ounce Icy Bay IPA’s at the inn made it down right hospitable. Throw in all the fisher-people and locals who all seemed to have a pleasant outlook it’s no wonder folks come for a visit and stay for life. OK, now on with the fishing!