A couple of weeks ago I was riding my bike up West Hill when I noticed a missed call from a friend. A crew member had hurt his back and they needed someone to fill in right away in Egigik. I regretfully texted back that I didn't think I could make it work. Although I have loved every minute of my last several summers, filled to the brim with family and farming, it's hard not to miss fishing.
The pull of the sea is strong, especially when you've grown up on it and the salt water is in your blood. As I kept riding across Skyline, the wheels in my head were spinning faster than my pedals, and by the time I reached the other end I had lined up some good friends to help with the kids while Nate was at work. I had to go.
After a quick trip to the Gear Shed and some goodbye kisses, our neighbor and good friend Andrei moved mountains to fly me to Naknek.
Since I arrived on a low tide, I had a few hours for running around Naknek and Libbyville while waiting for the water to rise so the tender that would give me a ride to Egigik could get in to the dock.
When the M/V Maverick arrived that evening at the cannery to unload, and I jumped aboard and we headed out of the river to Egigik.
We arrived in Egigik early the next morning, just in time to jump aboard for an 8 am opener. The water was choppy and I spent a few hours puking my guts out, but once the fish started rolling in, we got too busy for seasickness.
After several days of loading up in Egigik, we transferred to Naknek, which required that we took 48 hours off from fishing - a little time to repair the net, change the oil, clean the cabin, shower and wash laundry, prepare a homepack, stop in at the bar, get some sleep, and generally have our transfer vacation.
After a few hours in town, we said goodbye to our bear buddies on shore and headed back out the to fishing grounds on the midnight tide.
The run in Naknek came in strong, and we spent a couple gloriously hot, sunny days fishing and a few more cold choppy ones. All were wonderful.
My whirlwind trip overflowed with thousands and thousands of salmon; a few back deck dance parties; lots of chili mac, trashy novels, and crocheting; and an abundance of wild, raw beauty in this incredible place.
A canine buddy and I finished up a great long week with a gorgeous run from King Salmon Airport up to Naknek Lake and then I boarded the plane to Homer, eager to squeezing my three sweethearts, but leaving a piece of my heart in Bristol Bay.