Bristol Bay Bulletin

The boys are back in town!

Posted by : Wild For Salmon   /  

The boys are back in town! The last full weekend in July brought the crew home from Bristol Bay via Seattle--where Elma (me, the “fishpatcher” of this bulletin and marketing help on the west coast) finally had the chance to meet Steve in person! Before talking business with our friend, Mark Titus of The Breach and soon to be The Wild films, we had the chance to talk fishing, swap stories and shake hands--one of which was more calloused and swollen than the other. I think I may have even seen a fish scale left on Steve’s baseball cap.

The return from fishing often feels like a holiday, but better: the pride of trying your best, no matter the result of the season, combined with the reintroduction of amenities you’ve missed out on the water and then adding on seeing family and friends for the first time in a month or two?! All of this is hard to beat. It was an honor to spend time with Steve and Mark as they adjust to late summer off the boat, which has been put to bed in the Naknek boatyard. I brought them the blueberry jam I neglected to get out in a care package during the season, when it would have been much more valuable.


Sockeye on deck of the Ava Jane; Summer 17; photo by Mark Titus


Inevitably, we discussed both summer high points and low points. As mentioned at the end of the last bulletin, the threat of Pebble Mine is disappointingly strong yet again and a big low point for the otherwise fantastic 2017 season. Spending a moment in Mark Titus’s office with Steve, however, was an inspiring reminder that there are many of us who will work tirelessly to make sure that project does not succeed. To remind those who have not yet tuned in to this fish news: the Pebble Mine is a proposed open-pit copper mine that would be the largest in North America and would stand right at Bristol Bay’s headwaters, risking the whole ecosystem. The Trump administration’s EPA has moved swiftly to restore room for the Pebble Limited Partnership to legally pursue the project and apply for permits.


A Bristol Bay evening; Summer 17; photo by Mark Titus

My first question for you today is, have you made your voice heard? You can do that here; the anecdotes of knowing Steve, buying from the store in Bloomsburg, or waiting for the “red gold” of salmon to show up on your doorstep is what the EPA needs to hear in order to understand truly how much Americans care about this sustainable natural resource. In this case, it is the act of eating salmon that gives it value. American Catch author Paul Greenberg puts it two important ways:

Because Bristol Bay learned from past mistakes of failed fisheries all over the US, the area set the sustainability bar high and has succeeded (as evidenced by a record-breaking 2017 run of over 47 million fish) : “And now, with state-of-the-art fisheries management technology in place, with sonar counters, with satellite telemetry, with millions of dollars at their disposal to make sure that the hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of Alaska sockeye continue to return to those Alaskan rivers, suddenly the rug could be pulled out from under the whole complicated balancing act.” (p181)

And then again, “Quite simply, Americans are risking their wild salmon because Americans do not eat enough of their wild salmon.” (p184)

For our most curious customers with a bit of free time, I highly recommend Paul Greenberg’s book which focuses on oysters, shrimp, and Bristol Bay sockeye salmon.


Paul Greenberg’s American Catch makes a great case for Bristol Bay.

Further inspiration for your comments may be found in this KDLG article that outlines how truly historic this season’s salmon run was, or on our instagram which is posting many of Mark’s photos that highlight truly how beautiful Alaska is, or, most are invited to join us for Fishtival on August 19th at our storefront on Route 11 in Bloomsburg!


My second question is, have you RSVP’d yet? You can do that and learn about all the activities for the day here. Many of our products will be on sale. We will be putting on fish prep demos and cooking up samples to try. Turkey Hill Brewing Company and Freas Farm Winery will be joining us, as well as some other delicious local options. And the crew will be there! Help us welcome them home. Come and ask them about their summer, shake one of those calloused hands, and get to know your fisherman. We would sure like to know you!


Veteran crew Cabot, Greenhorns Matt & Yankee, and Steve; Summer 17; photo by Mark Titus

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