Subsistence Fishing

Fishing has become an integral part of our lives here in the bush. Fishing, particularly subsistence fishing, is a huge part of village life. Stores are extremely expensive, if they exist at all, so many families still depend on hunting, fishing, and gathering to supplement their diets. Aside from the availability issues, it's also a huge part of their cultural society.


As a life-long vegetarian I knew that my options for eating fresh fruits and veggies would be limited, while fishing would likely be a part of our routine, and that my diet would potentially have to shift. I had come to terms with this ahead of time and decided to fully embrace becoming pescatarian (I'm only eating seafood that we catch, and will still be eating vegetarian/vegan outside of the village). I came to the bush with the intention of embracing the culture and lifestyles of my new community, which includes subsistence activities.


Cody and I have been trying to learn about the culture of subsistence living as much as we can.  Because of that, we've been homemaking more food, picking berries, and fishing 1-2 times per week. Fishing here is much different than fishing back home.  We don't go out with a tackle box and poles. There are no slow, lazy trips around a calm lake. 



Instead, we use a fishing net that is attached to a pulley system on the beach.  At low tide, the net gets pulled out. Then, at high tide you head back down to the beach. The net is lined with bobbers, which jump around in the water as soon as a fish hits the net.  As fish hit the net we reel it in and pick them out of it. As the fish get picked from the net they are then immediately filleted. Sue and Al, our school cook and his wife, have graciously taken us under their wing and been teaching us the right way to catch, fillet, and prepare the fish. We've typically been getting 10-15 fish a day when we go out, and then we take them home to vacuum seal and freeze them.  However, Sue and Al have also been showing us how to smoke and can the fish too.


So far, this has been a great way for us to supplement our giant food costs.  All of our groceries have to be shipped in or purchased at our store (to give an idea - milk is $20/gallon and cookies are $10/package, while fresh options don't even exist) and having something we can get for free has been helpful. We've been enjoying learning different ways to prepare salmon and trout, which are the two kinds of fish we've been catching.


Subsistence fishing is just another adventure in our lives out here in bush Alaska. We came into this experience with the intention of trying new things and generally being "yes" people, and so far I think we've been doing a pretty good job of fulfilling that intention. 

Your turn...What are some new things you've said "yes" to lately? 
Currently listening to... Fire at the Pageant - The Felice Brothers




Comments

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. I said "yes" to Mark Skowronski this summer!! We're so happy you and Cody could be here to share in our happiness and another step forward in our life together, and we can't wait for you to be back again next summer! My "yes" allows for a whole other set of firsts as well, including our first visit to Pilot Point, AK, next year!

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    1. Glad we got to be there for your special day too! Can't wait for you guys to make the trek out here to visit! :)

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  3. This is so interesting! I definitely think of fishing as a leisurely morning on the lake, so it was interesting to hear about this side of things!

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    1. Being a native Michigander myself - that's how I've always viewed fishing. This is much more "high stakes" because it's providing food for the winter.

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