Sunday, July 25, 2021

Dip Netting 2021

 Here it is August 2nd - and I am reflecting on this year's dipnetting...Fish Camp 2021. My heart is full. We weren't sure I'd be able to go with the family this year. Dad needs more care, care that is impossible in the RV, and he really didn't want to go. Will flying up was an answer to prayer. Dad had a great time with Will. I had a great time with family. It looks like we will be taking this one trip a year for a few years - and it is so refreshing to be together - in the RV - exploring Alaska.  I'm thankful I didn't have to miss it. 

The first year we joined another group for a 3 day trip. It was great fun. That year it was us and Cory and Arielle. The next year more family joined, we were moved to a new campground, Dad was with us, and the dynamic changed. We miss the fun of being with friends but SURPRISE - Fish Camp has become as much about family getting away together to connect as it is about fishing. A 5 day stay allows us to take a more leisurely pace. Michael's health really pays when he fishes 2 tides in one day. Five days also allows our working family more opportunities to join us.  And so...we met again this the five day span members of all the out of home Gherkins families (with the exception of JaRissa in Juneau) made it down.  We had never come down on a Friday before...but it turned out well for us. But I'm getting ahead of myself....

Michael and I slept in the RV Thursday night. Everything was packed. Will was prepped. CoRielle showed up at our house at 0830. They drove Michael's truck down for us. We need a truck to haul big nets to the beach and back.  We met Izaak at the local gas station and headed OUT OF TOWN. Oh how we've MISSED camping/traveling/exploring. 

On the road again...he WAS happy

It was odd to have just four in the RV...Alex and Nolan stayed home to work. Nolan also house sat for CoRielle and watched Kimber. Stacia would have been lonely if Allie wasn't along. There was a fair bit of cutting up along the way....Note the RV is stopped during this staged shot.    

It's a four hour drive to many men DOES it take to level an RV. Does something seem "off" with the plan they've come up with? 
Izaak, Cory and Michael plan to level the RV 

Benny showed off his strength by hauling the tent over to the perfect (albeit rocky) spot for set up. 
Allie and Arielle got busy setting up the tent. 

Danny provided happy smiles and encouragement to all. 
8 months - first dip netting trip

In no time at all, CyRi arrived and we were all at our happy place...down on the beach. Benny and Livie thought they'd bury fish until both Mom's told them not to touch the dead fish. Ugh. 

This is Danny's first dip netting trip - and his very first tide! He was a trooper! The beach is his happy place too! 

Benny is on seagull patrol. His mission - to keep the seagulls away from our fish. He and Livie are great bonkers/ know they help hit the fish on the head. 
My Beach Buddy for the 3rd year...
📷by Arielle

Here's the crew out on our first tide....
2nd from left...Carrie, Izaak, Allie, Cy, Livie, Cory, stranger, Stacia

Allie hadn't dip netted - manned a dip net - before. Josiah is our fishing instructor. He took her out before we even had all the nets assembled. I was proud of Allie. It's a bit intimidating to stand out there with a huge net and fight the current. She jumped right in. 

And BAM! Allie caught the first salmon on the first tide of Fish Camp 2021. It was perfect!!! There was a bit of a discussion about whether the first fish was hers or Cy's but everyone insists it was hers. LOL Livie and Benny were on hand with their konkers. I untangled it while they celebrated. 
📷by Arielle

Woot! First fish goes to Allie. Let the season begin!
📷by Arielle

Soon after this things got to busy for photos! I've never seen the fish pop like this. We had several tell us this was either the best tide they'd "ever seen in 50 years," or this is the "2nd best I've seen."  How good was it? 

In less than 2 hours we had 134 fish...we could have gotten all our fishing done that first tide if we'd had more coolers. We didn't think about sending one of us back for more coolers. We filled our coolers, buckets, trash bags and finally we had to stop as there simply was no other way to carry the fish off the beach.  Cory caught 28, Izaak 27, Stacia 21, Carrie 20 and I lost track of the other numbers.... Michael caught several as he was walking OUT to the current - they jumped in his net. Stacia brought in several with two fish in her net...and someone had 3. 
These 2 caught 35 fish in under 2 hours 

Allie, Stacia and Michael caught 44 fish in 1 1/2 hours

Getting off the beach is always so much harder than getting on the beach. LOL  Those coolers are HEAVY when filled with salmon. 

In under 2 hours CyRi had what they wanted. We were within 16 of what we wanted. CoRielle and Izaak were within 10.  Hmmm....and we had 4 nights left. LOL  

Reality slammed us hard when we got back to the camp and had 134 fish to clean....they decided to wait and go down in the a.m. to fillet them. We got to bed at about 2 a.m. When we got to the cleaning station on Saturday morning every station was full. We waited for a good hour to get a spot....we began to process as we waited. 

As they fillet the fish, Arielle and I pat them dry, package them in vacuum bags, and stack them in coolers to be sealed at our campsite. 

Michael did a quick quality control on the sealer and then Arielle and Danny took over. They kept sealing while the rest of us headed out for our second tide.  

My memory is a bit shaky on timing but somewhere around here KrUke and kids came by the campsite. They arrived late Friday night. 
Auntie Co-co and Benny
📷by Arielle

📷by Krista

Krista's supervisor - Chaplain Amber and her husband, Jean-Michel, joined us for this tide as well. This was their first year to be Alaska Residents and able to dip net.  It was fun to meet them and spend time having fun together. 

It was Saturday night, time to head down for our second tide. This would be KrUke and Amber/Jean-Michel's only tide.  Cy decided to head home Sunday a.m.  Carrie and Livie headed home late this evening. They didn't want any more fish, but stayed to help others get their limits. 

Allie and Stacia decided not to fish this tide. We only wanted 60 fish  and already had 44. They knew Michael could finish that up. He did. He caught 17 fish and put our household total at 61.  I was thrilled to have their help on shore duty. It was HOPPING busy Friday night. Michael caught the first fish of this tide. 

Cory volunteered to drive the truck back to the parking lot after everyone unloaded. Michael appreciated his help. He got back to the beach and found a unique way to get his waders on without getting a lot of sand in them. LOL 

He was just getting ready to go in when Michael came out with a fish. Cory doesn't know his strength - he's got a mighty strong  konking arm. 

Krista's got a fish on!

It's a good-sized one! 

Amber's first catch. 

Michael has another one....

Krista has two fish in her net at the same time! 

Carrie's fish jumped from her arms into Stacia's. 

Filling their freezer....Carrie and Livie decided to stop fishing and head home. KrUke had their limit and Luke and the kids went back to camp. 
KrUke will eat will this winter

Seagulls - a very real and present danger. 

Shore crew - I loved having them on the beach

Our group caught another 111 fish in under 2 hours. Everyone was satisfied with what they had.  Izaak cleaned his fish and also went home. Josiah stayed and helped everyone clean and process their fish.  It was another very late night. 

Something had taken a bit out of this guy and it was interesting how his body repaired. 

Jamin spent Saturday running the 22.5 mile Crow Pass race for the first time. He had planned to come down Sunday and Monday to fish. We weren't sure what he would do with so many catching their fish and leaving. Knowing Jamin our bet was he'd want to fish one tide and go home. He's about time efficiency. CoRielle and us have decided to STAY the planned 5 nights to simply RELAX.

Sunday morning I helped Krista fillet and seal her fish. Josiah got up and helped Jean-Michel and Amber fillet their fish and then he headed home. We relaxed. Jamin arrived. As suspected, he wanted to fish one tide, get his 25 and head home. Michael decided to sit this tide out. Cory watched the boys so Arielle could fish this tide. The girls went back out. We had 5 nets in. It took them about an hour and a half to get another 10+ for CoRielle and 25 for Jamin. Stacia caught the first fish on this tide. We see a trend. We're a lucky house. LOL
Michael helps Jamin get his net ready

We LOVE the beach! 

We got some great photos with Michael sitting out the tide. THIS photo comes with a funny story. I ran out to help Allie pull in her net. The hook on my waders came loose from my boot and caught in her net. I had to run, hobble, hop to keep up as she pulled the net in,  and barely kept from falling. Allie had ONE JOB - to hold the net while I untangled her fish. She dropped her net over my head. ::snort:: 

Arielle's first catch of the trip. She is happy to be out in the water. 

She caught a couple and was ready to be done. I gave her the message Cory had given me, "We want all 10 fish, even if Arielle says we don't."  ::snort:: He wanted to be sure she had a fun time fishing. 

📷 via Arielle

I went back to the nice warm truck and stayed with the boys so Cory could help get the fish and equipment off the beach.  

We all got a good laugh back at the campsite. Arielle DID have about 5 gal of water in her waders! Why? Because she is just a tad bit competitive and went out as far as Jamin to get as many fish as he did. LOL She got swamped quite a few times. LOL 
It was another late night as Cory and Jamin cleaned fish. Jamin left for Anchorage shortly after midnight. 

This brought the fishing part of fish camp to a close! We were amazed at how easy it was to catch our fish this year. I believe the group total was 278.  Our freezer is full for another year. All of CoRielle and our fish was safe in the freezer, resting safely in the RV. There were still two more nights before we had to leave the area. I know this much fish seems excessive to some of you....but this keeps us eating well in the winter.  We have it for dinner. We smoke it,  and jerk it for snacking. We can it and use it for lunches and chowder. We were HAPPY to have it when the supply lines were disrupted in the last year and a half. 

Dip-netting is always a blessing. This year the blessing came much quicker than we've experienced before. 

I've decided this is quite long enough. This covers Friday - Sunday.  I'll do another post of the more touristy part of fish camp. LOL 

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