The Salmon are Coming!

Salmon is a really big deal here. Really big. Most people in Cordova are fishermen (and women) and everyone is gearing up for the big day – May 17th. The Salmon Opener. The next few months are when most people in Cordova make their annual income…and it’s huge. Boats are taken apart, cleaned and inspected. Pick-up trucks drive precariously along the roads pulling their boats down to the water, and drivers give them a wide berth. Moving boats on land is very stressful. Fishermen do their laundry and stock up on mac and cheese. And it’s all in preparation for salmon.

There are five types of Pacific Salmon which are fished out of the Copper River and the surrounding bays, and there is a really handy little mnemonic device using your five fingers to remember the different types:

  1. Chum Salmon (Chum rhymes with thumb.) Chum Salmon got their name because natives used to feed this type of salmon to their sled dogs. There were so many, that the dogs had a delicious salmon feast each night. It is the second most common type of Pacific Salmon.
  2. Sockeye Salmon (pointer finger – the finger you would use to poke someone in the eye). Also called Red Salmon. They are red in color, but their head turns green when they return back to the rivers to spawn.
  3. King Salmon (middle finger, it is the longest finger; or you could be saying “fuck the king!) This salmon travels almost the entire length of the River (about 300 miles) so it needs to put on a lot of oil to make the trip. The King Salmon is the richest and oiliest (and generally the most delicious) of all the salmons…but you probably couldn’t eat it every day.
  4. Silver Salmon (ring finger – rings can be made of silver) Also called Coho Salmon. This Oregon staple is also pretty common up here in Alaska.
  5. Pink Salmon (pinkie!) This is generally the one you will buy if you buy canned salmon and is the most common type of Pacific Salmon.

Though I don’t have a strong desire to work on a fishing boat, I’ve been enjoying going on rides around the bay with friends as they test out their engines on their nice, clean boats. Locals refer to it as “yachting” aka…driving around with no purpose. On the rare days that the sun decides to shine, a boat is a pretty cool place to check out the views and watch the red, glowing ball sink below the mountains in the distance. And…snack on some yummy smoked salmon, of course 🙂

Pictures below of some water adventures to a nearby island (yachting)

Not to bad 🙂



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