Thursday, August 9, 2012

August 8th, 2012: Pinks

You think of Alaska and you think of streams filled with salmon. All responding to the timeless urge to spawn. Bears lining the streams snatching fish and birds everywhere feeding off the remains, or even feeding on the live fish as they splash in shallow water.
So when we heard the pinks were in we had to drive the short drive to Soloman Gulch and the state run fish hatchery. There, every other year the pinks return to the hatchery and actually swim into the holding tanks where they are spawned by hand for the next generation of fish.
It was raining as we approaced, and the first thing we saw was a flashing message board of bears in the area. A sign warning that people should stay in their cars, and of course a sign being ignored. A tour bus had disgorged its load and people were everywhere walking along the rivers bank. It was low tide and the fish were struggling to force their way upstream.
There bears had already left, and so we got out in the rain, and joined the throng of people watching the pink salmon. There were literally tens of thousands of salmon jumping, swimming, and resting everywhere we looked.
Every resting pool was packed with fish and they forced each other out of the water. Salmon jumped the small dam and were set upon by gulls who only ate the eyes,(we have heard that fish head soup is really good but the eyes?).
The state spawns about two hundred and thirty million eggs, releasing the fry in March and so the 2014 pinks are starting their brief life right now. Pinks are ignored by Alaskans as a fish for kids to catch and not worth keeping or eating.
After all the reds are just finishing their run and the silvers should be coming in so why bother with the lowly pink/humpy. Yet when you go to a supermarket down south you see pink salmon for sale in the canned fish section and if you have had canned salmon you have probably eaten pinks.
Its not just here that the fish are spawning, every stream we have stopped at here has spawning pinks. However to see the mass of fish you have to visit Soloman Gulch. It makes the long drive worthwhile. Now if we can just see some of the bears! Clear skies

1 comment:

  1. Glad to see you are there. The ride into town is the best, everything elas is pure gravy. Play safe