Posted by: gmelvin | August 17, 2014

Closing the Summer… (Pt. 1 of 2)


     Last week, I closed off the summer fishing with having prepped the boat and gill net. But if you noticed, I had quite a large boat. Since I’ve been asked how I got the boat down to the ocean…look below…

      Could I have used something else than cat litter? Yes. But I didn’t want to give any chance of something else puncturing thru the boat, and a good weight was needed so the boat wouldn’t fly off the four-wheeler when I rode down to the beach.

     We caught a good number of salmon, but the closing of the season has limited our numbers. When I first started out freezing salmon, I had trouble of keeping the fillets fresh for a good period of time. But as of last year, I started a habit of wrapping each fillet tightly in cling warp. I would place them in freezer bags that were air tight, and they typically lasted for the whole school year.

Rinsing off the blood and tiny rocks


Wrapping the salmon fillet tight in cling wrap minimizes any air touching the fillet. Air tends to ruin fresh meat when frozen for an extended period of time

I squeezed as much air as I could out of the bag and label the number of fillets. I never wrote a date because they won't last beyond the end of this school year.


In the past, we’ve been finding loose boards on the beach to fillet salmon. We had no table, and usually filleted on the ground. It was kind of a mess. This time…I wanted a fillet table. On a dry, summer day, I drove out near the lagoon and picked up good pieces of driftwood and other discarded pieces.

Driftwood used in building a fillet table

     I was lucky in finding a few particular pieces that suited my plans. It took me somewhere between 6-8 hours, but a good design finally fell thru. A teacher friend of mine recommended to have the fillet table “mobile,” meaning it didn’t have to stay out on the beach all night (and all winter & spring). It was a great insight, and I soon had the table fitted perfectly on the back of my four-wheeler.

The flat part of the fillet table detaches. It's supported by four wooden beams underneath, and four protruding nail heads on top (so the board won't flip).

     You can see a small metal bar between the flat fillet board, and the main section of the fillet table. Two beams of wood slide under that bar to hold the fillet table in place when driving to the beach. Additionally, heavy-duty tarp wrap around those two beams under the main part of the table to prevent any tearing up of the four-wheeler seat. There are some nice splinters in driftwood. The table supports three adults filleting salmon at one time. The two angle tables are measured at 15* and primarily allows blood to drift away from the salmon. The slits were glued in place to minimize blood on the flip side of filleted salmon (which theoretically was supposed to make it easier to clean).

     Sadly, it’s not the most professional. I never included a blood catch on the side edges due to time constraint (it was time pull the net…didn’t want to wait). Plus, the slits aren’t working out as well as I hoped. The salmon would slide a little when filleting. All in all – it works. It was a good learning experience, and it has made it easier to clean salmon. It’ll be a keeper.


     After a good length of time working on the gill net, we headed back. The night was a very cool one, and a low fog started drifting in from the west. Seizing an opportunity (which a teacher later called me ‘crazy’ for doing so), I took a rocky trail up the small mountain out north of the village. Below are pics of the trip…


Villagers like to stack rocks or spell out words on top of the mountain. Quite a few mosquitoes on the mountain top


A herd of musk ox had the same thought of a mountain trip. But they didn't seem too pleased when they heard the four-wheeler engine


     About ten days later, search-and-rescue found the missing villager. He was located three miles west of the village, and washed up on shore. See the KNOM Link. His funeral was held last Wednesday. However, the story didn’t end here. Something else major has happened, but strangely has not been reported yet in the news media. I’ll mention it in a later post when a news article comes online. Please have prayers for the village – there’s been major troubles come up within the past few weeks.

    The next part will be posted soon this week.


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