Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Weatherport setup

This year's weatherport setup was fast! Check it out.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Back in Chignik

Jen, Conrad and I are back in Chignik setting up the field camp. This year the fishery opened about two weeks early, so the purse seiner that we charter to bring our gear upstream was fishing instead. We got our little Lund working and went to the bay for our big boat and some supplies.

The early fishery had Trident seafoods scrambling for tenders to bring fish to the processor, and one of the ones sent out was "Time Bandit", which is apparently a boat from The Deadliest Catch.

Yesterday we went up to Black Lake on a pretty nasty day to do some limnology and beach seining. We got the seining done, but the limnology in that wind was a no go.

We leave quite a bit of food in camp over winter so there is something to eat for the folks that open camp in the following year. That was useful this year because we couldn't get our food for the first couple days. I don't know what is scarier, the way mayonnaise separates after it has frozen and thawed several times, or the fact that miracle whip is impervious to the freezing.
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Friday, September 3, 2010


Have you ever had the feeling that you were being hunted down by the Terminator? Now, I can honestly say that I have. Thanks Sean. Won't this boat go any faster?

Last week we took our last trip up the Alec river with our late season crew (Jen, Rachel, Me, Sean, and Conrad). It was a successful trip and we saw ~25 bears along the way. Luckily they are all pretty satiated on the 700,000 spawning sockeye that are there right now (note the fish heads in the foreground, the area was littered with them, as its the only part the bears won't eat).

We also did our last trip to Black Lake, which was an overnighter, so we stayed at Ron's cabin on Black River. Here we are waiting for some better weather to get out and get the work done.

After the bulk of the field work was done, Sean and I put in some time for coho. The water is unusually murky, but the ~1500 coho entering the river every day has made our job easier. We had some fun, and Sean got to take some fish home. Here's a little one I took on a fly this morning.

One of our last chores for the season is to pull all of our boats out of the water. We don't have the capacity to get our 19" workskiff out at camp, so we take it to the Trident Seafoods dock in the bay, and they haul it out for us. We are closing up camp now. Tomorrow we will board up the windows and drain the water system as our last activities. Then we wait for the nice folks from the ADF&G weir to give us a ride to the airstrip so we can head home. It has been a great season, and I think we are all pretty happy about the progress of the work we got done. See ya!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Chignik Olympics II

Fishing. OK, this is a bit of a stretch, but hey, we spend a bit of time fishing; some for fun, some for science, and sometimes your arm gets sore from all of the casting. Tish wore herself out fighting a couple of nice halibut a while back

Boat pushing. Ah, the dark side of Black Lake trips. To get into the Alec River, we navigate two deltas, and each has its pitfalls. Late season when the snow is gone and the water is low can be treacherous. At its worst we have to take all of the heavy items out of the boat and push until we find knee deep water, then reload everything and hope the cooling system isn't completely jammed with sand.

Net pulling. Well, our job here is to catch fish after all, and the fly rod only goes so far. In the end we pull lots of nets, usually beach seines in Chignik Lake, Black lake, and Chignik Lagoon. This is probably our most common "activity."

OK, net pulling gets two. Conrad has been conducting research on pygmy whitefish for a couple of years here. In order to catch the deep morph we sink small-mesh gill nets to the bottom of Chignik Lake (~180 ft.) and pull them up each day. Its a haul.

The Chignik Olympics are nearly over for this season, but if we leave with all of our digits intact we are all winners right? Someone help Jen on to the podium.

Chignik Olympics I

Its a well known fact that we just don't get much exercise here in Chignik. Jen and Lindsy were pretty vigilant about running up and down the trail from the cabin to the boats, but in general our hearts don't get much of a day to day workout (unless you count pumping pork products). That said, we do have a few activities we affectionately term the Chignik Olympics. Here are a smattering of them in no particular order:

Generator starting. Ever since the alternator went out on our 1982 Lister 5kW generator we have been starting it by hand. Originally we would have one person crank and flip the compression lever, but lately we have all been cranking and flipping on one fell swoop.

Cart pushing/pulling. Our camp is about 400 feet from the river, and to get anything to and from the boats (which is everything) we load it on a cart and roll it up the hill. The challenge is to see how much you can load and roll without dumping the whole load on the path.

Barrel rolling. This is a big one. We need approximately 18, 55 gallon drums to fuel our boat and power requirements for the summer with a little left over to start the next season. Gas barrels weigh about 350 pounds, and diesel about 390. We bring them in our large boat, push them over the side and roll them up to camp. Champs in this sport like Conrad (pictured) can push a barrel all the way up the path to the fuel area by themselves.

Rope pulling. This is kind of an odd one, but we sometimes try to tension rope to hold a beach seine in a boat or in this case hold a boat midriver in the current. We pull so many ropes that we all have hands like velcro after a couple weeks.

Monday, August 23, 2010

instrument search and recovery

A couple weeks ago we spent a lot of time looking for one of my lost acoustic receivers. In the end we decided to use a big water pump to blast away sand in the area we thought the receiver may have been buried over the winter. Conrad put together this video of the result:

Saturday, August 21, 2010


Sorry I haven't posted in a while. Tish and Lindsy are both gone now, so there are only three of us left in camp. Today we made a foray to the Alec River to try to calibrate some of Jen's equipment. Coming around the bend we saw this fox with the better part of a sockeye. He was pretty reluctant to leave it or haul it off and was tolerant us a quick photo shoot. I will try to post more soon.