When the Alaska Department of Fish & Game implemented the winter king salmon troll fishery years ago, it was to provide income in Southeast Alaska villages. Winter shore jobs are scarce in our rural communities.
The salmon in the Hoonah area tend to be in the shallow waters of bays, inlets and bights throughout the winter and early spring giving rod and reel hand trollers a chance to apply their skills. They might be lucky enough to slip out for a day or two during lulls in the weather, and if the fish are cooperative a couple of them will get caught. The high demand during these months brings the price of king salmon to over $10 a pound. A 20-pound salmon or two can keep a family supplied with groceries for a few days. Weather permitting, the process is repeated week after week throughout the winter and early spring, or at least until other jobs are available.
Out my window, I watch these hardy friends troll along the shore and wonder what the village would be like if this opportunity was taken away from them? I know it would be a huge disappointment for me even if I’m not able to join in the tradition due to my failing health.