Fishing Expedition to Egegik, Alaska

a map of Alaska's Kvichak Bay

Egegik, Alaska

Tuesday, June 9, 1981—Sylvia has been in Minneapolis. She called to tell me that mother has had a stroke. Later James and I went to borrow a trailer to help Henry but couldn’t get it.

Tuesday, June 30, 1981—went to see Billmans. Denny is in town. Left some lettuce for Dan and Patti and worked on the door of the swamp buggy. Rain in the morning and sunny and wind in the afternoon. Mike asked me if I wanted to go to Egegik with him. His sister Judy had tendonitis and she needed help with her commercial fishing netting and I agreed to go.

Wednesday, July 1, 1981—I got packed after 2 a.m. on July the first. Mike and I drove to Anchorage and stopped at a store where I bought some gear to go commercial fishing at Big Creek, Judy Phillips’ site at Egegik. We arranged for our tickets and caught a WEIN flight to King Salmon. We transferred to a smaller plane for a flight to Big Creek and landed on the beach there. The tide needs to be out so the plane can land on the hard sand. It was fishing time when we arrived that day and we jumped right in, pulled our hip boots on and helped Judy pick fish in her net. We got 360, six pound fish (red salmon—beautiful). Met Scott, who fishes and Claudia who fishes, they both fish nearby. Claudia is also Mike’s landlady back in Copper Center. We set up the tent in a strong wind and were really tired, but slept real well.

Thursday, July 2, 1981—it’s very windy, sand blows into everything. Wind blows on the tent so hard, it just pops and sometimes it lays down right on our face. We have it tied off to a plane that has been wrecked on the beach. That anchors our tent and keeps the wind from blowing it away. We went over twice to “Andys” fish buying. Judy sells to him. We met several people that work on the beach fishing. Judy needed more help and some guys helped carry her nets all around the sand dunes. Saw a dead seal—teeth looked old. Then I went over to another fish camp north—it’s bigger. Five skiffs and some bigger boats fish out of there. On the way back to Judy’s the wind picked up to 40+ miles per hour and we guyed the tent down some more. It sure pops in this wind. Met a guy by the name of Mike and two girls. We slept well after a great supper. I filleted fresh caught, sea run salmon for our supper. Excellent repast!

Friday, July 3, 1981—got up at 6:45 a.m. The wind has dropped some. Judy’s net had gotten partially buried in the mud last night and we only got 87 fish. We were all disappointed. She and a friend of hers canned salmon tonight.

Saturday, July 4, 1981—ate a little rice and went out to pick the net. Got 547 fish—nice, big red salmon. It was a high tide and she’s repairing holes in the net now. We’ll set in deep water for tonight’s tide. Didn’t get enough tide, one net had very few fish. Sunny day, nice in that respect. C-119’s and DC3’s haul most of the fish from this camp.

Sunday, July 5, 1981—up early, just as the tide is going out. Got a bite to eat and coffee, picked the fish out of the net. We got 500. We loaded them on the camp truck and reset the nets and got 247 this evening. Saw a small, dead, spotted seal. It was a beautiful day and a beautiful sunset.

Monday, July 6, 1981—went out with Scott to help him—half his net is tore up. Judy and Mike got 289. It was a little windy, but sunny. We did some beachcombing and then on the evening tide, we got 129 more salmon.

Tuesday, July 7, 1981—it’s blowing and a light rain, 489 fish in the morning. It rained all day and we got only 130 fish that evening.

Wednesday, July 8, 1981—it’s blowing pretty hard, cloudy. We got 240 fish. It’s sunny today. Later in the day we went beachcombing and found a glass ball, wood, and plastic floats. Saw one bear track, one dead seal. Got only 150 fish. The net got rolled by the tide and consequently we didn’t get very many fish.

Thursday, July 9, 1981—a very good day. We got 1107 fish this day. Judy is very happy. It’s rainy and nearby is Ed’s place. Ed is sick and Claudia asked me if I would take his place fishing. So I’m pulling fish over there now. I got a 130 fish outta the net I picked and I get paid for picking salmon here. One of the men who worked on a fishing boat got an infection of some kind in a wound and got very sick. His body actually stiffened out. They phoned out for a plane to come and fly him to medical help. Surprisingly, he was back in a few days and went to work. In between fishing periods and tides, we walked along the beach looking for things that had washed up on the beach. Occasionally a seal would tear a big hole in the net, and Judy would repair it. What with the carrion washing up on the beach, attracting bears, we paid close attention to our surroundings, especially in the darkest part of the night. This is quite an experience for us—me a Minnesota farmer.

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