Time does not really exist while out at fish camp and I can't really remember how many days we were there. We left on Wednesday and got back... some day after Wednesday.
A friend was nice enough to allow us the use of her 16 foot Lund. So, Myra, Romay, Ethan, Joe, Will, Kemper, and I with all of our camping and fishing stuff, loaded in the boat... for those of you who are math majors out there and are paying attention to the details and picturing how low a small Lund would ride in the water loaded that way, we took two trips to get out to Igluteluk so as not to need the assistance of the Coast Guard (Junie and one of his boys in a slightly larger boat).
Of course, knowing me and how I travel, we did not get out into the bay on time. The boat motor we had fixed the day before began to act up again. Some time and creative language later, Joe had it going and we loaded up for the first trip on a slightly lower tide than originally intended. My and I had always camped either up river or at Ungaluk and so I did not know how lovely the mouth of Igluteluk was. The bay was calm and we made good time coming across until we had to get into the river itself. The Lund turned into a heavy ping pong ball that bounced from shallow mud flat to shallow mud flat and left me, the only sucker with waders, pushing a heavily loaded hull in two feet of water for what seemed like miles.
Finally, into the mouth, we followed the cut bank up a couple of bends to a friend's fish camp where I dropped Joe and Will along with a ton of camping gear to go and pick up My, the kids, and the dog. Two hours of playing on the mud flats by myself and going back to the camp at the mouth for directions from Leo Sr. (just to prove that as a man I am not afraid to ask for directions), and I was out in the bay again headed for Koyuk in a light porposing Lund. Thankfully, I had found myself high and dry on the Koyuk Mudflats four years prior and I knew how to find that channel and in I zoomed to pick up my family who had expected me sometime in the next 45 minutes for the last three hours.
We rode in what had become decent rollers across the bay and thankfully the tide had come in enough to allow for a more forgiving mudflats and we only had to dig a slight trench on our way in. That night involved getting fire wood, casting without any success, and resting my burned out calves and thighs (Suzanne Summer should try out a pair of waders in two feet of water and she could throw out her thigh master).
We set the net, built a fish rack extension for the camp we were borrowing, the kids swam, we pulled a few fish from the net and then got ready to go up river to rod and reel and maybe do a seine. Miles of grass infested channel later, hours of casting, and we had a single white fish landed. There were tons of fish, but no volunteers to bite. Out came the net and a crazy attempt by our small party to get fish into it. I drove and Myra controlled the net in the boat, Joe controlled the beach end, Will and Romay tried scaring fish into the net by throwing rocks into the river. Ethan had more than his hands full with holding Kemper, whose only purpose in life while at camp is to be in the boat while I am, and was doing okay with it until one of the kids threw a stick in the river instead of a rock... I swear Ethan flew eight feet in the air off of the high bank and then skipped ten feet across the beach before letting go of a stick, boat crazed dog who then swam out and crawled in. We made it to shore and Myra exploded into the shallows to close the trap prior to the exodus of the fish, lost her sandle in three feet of muck... and we still ended up with no fish in the net.
Discouraged and hungry we headed for camp with our one white fish. The buoys were starting to go down on the set net and we made plans to check it after breakfast the next day. Tide came in along with all of the chum salmon in the bay and the next morning left us with more buoys down than floating. Joe and will set to emptying the net while Myra and began cutting... an eternity later (remember time does not exist at fish camp) and we had 120 fish, mostly chums hanging. Needless to say, we pulled the net. We ate, the kids swam, and the adults colapsed. Who knows how long we were out there after that? The fish were being smoked and we were resting for the ride home.
God blessed us with a ton of fish, and somehow helped me shoot through the mudflats three times that day as I ferried people, equipment and fish home. Two days of canning and you can see some of the results in the picture above. We won't be setting another net for at least a year and I have no need to see another canning jar for at least that long. All our fishing for the rest of the summer will be with rod and will result in filets (God willing) action packed and in the freezer.