Written by: Dan Michels, Crystal Creek Lodge
Robin Spears of Oregon shows off a magnificent sockeye salmon caught on the Naknek River near King Salmon, Alaska. The Naknek River is coming into the peak of its sockeye run, when thousands of fish can look like a continuous, solid, thick stripe of salmon—nose-to-tail and ten across—snaking its way upriver. The guides at Crystal Creek Lodge call the phenomenon “The Black Mamba.”
The sockeye is the basis of the ecosystem and the economy in the Bristol Bay region of southwest Alaska. Some 30 to 40 million sockeyes swim from the Pacific Ocean into the Bristol Bay rivers each year, and about two-thirds of them are harvested commercially as a proven sustainable fishery and create billions of dollars of value as they feed the world. The remainder of the sockeyes feed bears, eagles, giant rainbow trout, and virtually every other animal in the local environment. They also put up a great fight for anglers like Robin.
Dan Michels owns and operates Crystal Creek Lodge in Alaska.