|Here are some pictures from back in the early days of my going to Alaska.
Here I am in the summer of 1990 with a decent sized King Salmon that I am about to process. The green machine on the right is a
header machine, essentially an air powered guillotine, to remove the fish head. Unknown to many, there is a delicious little chunk of
meat in the cheek of the King, also present in other fish such as Halibut. This bit is difficult to remove and must be done by hand.
Salmon cheeks have the consistency of a fillet mignon, but of course tastes like salmon. My friends and I would hoard the King heads
and cut these chunks out after work, then fry them up as appetizers. Unbelievably tasty! Oh, and the painting of the hand with the
fingers cut off - I was very proud of that piece of artwork.
Dillingham, Alaska, 1991. I went up early that year for the herring season. The Wood River was breaking up during its annual thaw,
and the tide was moving the huge chunks of ice up and down the river twice a day. The ice had so much mass and inertia that when
they hit the dock piles they snapped like twigs. We had a crane on the end of the dock, and each day we would walk to work looking for
the crane - if it toppled into the river our season would probably be over before it began. I am pointing out a part of our dock that was
partially collapsed. We got the entire dock ready to go and had a banner salmon season.
Hanging out with some friends drinking a few beers in the hills outside Dillingham toward the end of the 1989 season.
Tim, Cheryl and I after we had just spent an hour cleaning a flooded grinder pit. A grinder pit is a large vault that holds a grinding
machine, into which the fish heads and guts go in, get ground up and pushed out into the river. Unfortunately knives, gloves, hats and
other such things routinely find their way to the grinder as well, which would then jam and overflow with bloody water filled with fish
heads and guts, fill up the vault and spill everywhere. It got to smelling pretty rank, especially on a sunny day. I wonder what ever
happened to Tim... good guy.
Fast forward to about 1994. My girlfriends parents had a cabin on an island along the famous inside passage, where the cruise ships
go. We went out there on vacation, got some local guy to take us fishing and crabbing for a couple of days. We were fishing for Red
Salmon, and this little King grabbed my bait. Man! It fought like a champ. Good eatin' too.