Combat fishing

Combat fishing

There are many descriptive terms in the Alaskan language. I do not mean any Alaska Native language, but the terms and vocabulary used by Alaskans in general. Rather than say “snowmobile,” which perhaps is too new or too specific for Alaskans, we say, “snow machine.” A great summertime term is “Combat Fishing.” Combat fishing is what happens when the salmon are running. It starts with King salmon in May on the Kenai and in Ship Creek in Anchorage, then come the reds on the Russian River and Kenai River, then the silvers. A favorite hot sport for silvers near Anchorage is Bird Creek, about a half hour to the south toward Girdwood. The prime time to fish for any running salmon is typically on the incoming tide, as the salmon are essentially being swept in with the tide. With combat fishing, you can typically find yourself as close as an arm’s length to the next anglers, one on each side of you, tossing a line up stream to let it float down and catch a salmon. Under the rules of fishing in this style, once an angler has a fish on the hook, he must yell “fish on!” so that everyone else can get out of the way and allow the angler to land his catch. Under Alaska regulations, the hook must be in the mouth or it is not legal.

In this photo, it has passed peak high tide and the tide is on its way out. Michelle and I were on an evening drive down the Turnagain Arm looking for photos, and to have dinner at Chair Five in Girdwood, and this was on the return leg of the trip. There were far more people fishing earlier, but I was really hungry and wanted to get to Chair Five for a pizza. I am constantly surprised that more people do not get snagged with a hook by other fishermen. It does happen, and is an frequent emergency room injury in the Soldotna hospital.

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