Posted: Wednesday, July 25, 2007

For those of us who live in Alaska year round, July is perhaps one of our most important food gathering months. There are so many ways of finding things to fill our freezers with here in Alaska starting with a large variety of things found in the ocean and also our many lakes and rivers. July offers us so many opportunities that it becomes very difficult to accomplish all that is out there unless we really learn to use our time wisely.

Thinking ahead and planning are very important tools for all of us to use if we are going to be able to take advantage of all that is available to us. How many times have you said, “There just isn’t enough time to do everything out there?” Perhaps if we more carefully planned ahead we would all have more time to get everything done?

If you use dip netting to fill your freezer each July have your nets rounded up and repaired before you even think about going out. Get your hip boots or chest waders out and check them for leaks. Make sure your cooler or extra refrigerator is plugged in before you leave the house to go dip netting. Have your knives all professionally sharpened and your cleaning table all cleaned up and ready to go. Do you have enough jars, lids, freezer paper, food bags, and the water hose ready to go by the cleaning table?

A word of advice, black mesh on your dip nets does not work as well as green as fish can see the black net and you will NOT do as well as others using green mesh.

If your going to spend a day out there dip netting, you won’t feel much like trying to round up all this stuff after you get home. Besides if you have a big mess of fish to clean you simply won’t have time. The faster you get your fish processed the better quality fish you’re going to put in the freezer and the more time you will have to do other things.

If it looks like you’re going to be out there all day, call home and have someone pick your fish up some place so they can be put in a cooler or at least iced down. If you have family members at home who can filet out your fish then perhaps they could get started cleaning them while you are out there trying to get the rest of your limit.

If you’re married and your wife stayed home that day, there would be a golden opportunity for her to try out that new knife. Wives love cleaning fish, yes they just love it! In fact I hear they are even adding a line in the wedding ceremonies here in Alaska, it goes something like this “Do you take this man to be your lawful wedded husband?” Do you promise to love and cherish him and cheerfully clean his fish?”

Then there is clam digging and most Alaskans simply dread cleaning them once they are back home. Cleaning clams really isn’t that bad of a job if you do it as a family project. To me the key to putting a nice meal of clams on the table is getting the sand off them as quickly as possible. Again this can be done easily if you plan ahead. Get your boots, shovels, gloves, buckets and clam guns all rounded up ahead of time. Take a large cooler and put it in your vehicle and fill it about half full of ice water before you leave your home.

Stop some place and get your clams all rinsed off before you even hit the road for home. Then put all the clams in the cold water and let the water sloshing around in the cooler help clean more sand out of the clams as you drive home. It might be wise to use your truck instead of your wife’s car for this process.

Some extra dry clothes might be nice especially if you have a load of kids with you. Once you got the clams home and most of the sand off them start an assembly line in getting your clams processed. Once your job is all done and the mess cleaned up reward your children by giving them a few dollars. Not that you should pay your children for helping but because you want to reward them for a job well done and also to keep their enthusiasm up.

This year I was more then a little grumpy over the conduct of some of our dip netting fishermen. Some of you were just plain rude and arrogant in the way you conducted business on the Kenai River. There is plenty of room and plenty of fish for everyone there but there always has to be a few jerks out there to make things difficult for others. If you’re in a big boat with a big motor that does not mean you have to race it full throttle every time to move it. Also if you see a smaller boat fishing in the same area you don’t have to blast right by them almost swamping them.

How funny would it really be to see a family out fishing together have their small boat sink and kids drown? Imagine causing such a wake that an elderly man falls and bumps his head causing serious injury? Whenever you drive your boat you are responsible to operate it in a sane manner. If your reckless action causes injury or damage to another you are liable. Show some respect and dignity out there and give your fellow fisherman a little space as the river and the fish belongs to all of us.

If your dip netting from shore and someone gets a fish, don’t take their spot while they are getting the fish out of the net that is just plain rude. If you’re in a boat don’t run your boat up in down the river right in front of the bank fishermen that is also rude and disrespectful. You have the whole river to fish in. If you pack it in, pack it out; don’t make your trash you leave behind be an eye sore to others or a burden to others who have to clean up after you. Thank God you live here in Alaska and take advantage fully of all that we here to enjoy but please be a little more respectful to those around you. See you next week!

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