Kenai Freezer-Filling

We usually fill the freezer at the Copper River. This year I went to the Kenai. 230,643 fish went through the Kenai River fish sonar on July 17–a record for one day. People described catching 30 sockeye in 30 minutes. My buddy Brian Cohn said the water was "boiling with fish." A few days later Dmitry and I headed down there, hoping for our limit of 60 fish. 

Dmitry and I rolled up to Ames Bridge at 9 pm, just after high tide. The best time for dipnetting is two hours on either side of high tide. Maybe this is a pretty photo, but it kind of bugs me. I've never climbed the rumbling Redoubt Volcano.

When the fish are rolling people cheer, flog fish, fling guts, crack beers and swap their crazy Alaskan stories. Subsistence dipnet fishing is the essence of Alaska. 

Dennis dipnets the Ames Bridge each year. His homemade net was cracked, but he still caught more than anyone.

I photographed the most interesting character during a break between tides. He was playing his accordion and drying a stash of salmon heads, roe and testicles. His ironing board fillet station was the source of much jealousy. This is Dmitry Sidrov, my friend since 1998 when we worked for the American Alpine Institute. We had a blast hanging together for the weekend. 

Some Anchoragites filleting their hoard. Dmitry and I caught 31 salmon resulting in over 100 pounds of fillets. Most fillet their salmon on the beach and toss the nutrient-rich remains into the river.