Bristol Bay fishermen prep for a busy salmon season

Fishing communities across Bristol Bay are pulsing with action these days as armies of fisherman work to ready their vessels for the extra-large return of salmon this year.

Still sitting on stilts in the boat yard, the Homeward rumbles to life for the first time this season. The Lummy yard is a beehive of activity with people making all the final preparation before they put their boats in the water.

Carl Spielman is the Skipper of the Vantage Point. He’s hoping to get his boat started up and in the water in a day or two.

“Get the boat up and running, sort of wake it up like a bear coming out of hibernation,” Spielman said.

The same thing could be said about the town of Naknek itself. There is traffic on the road and there is an energy in the air as people are anxious for the season to start.

Spielman looks forward to that feeling each year. He’s been fishing out of Naknek for almost 4 decades.

“Like deer camp, when you go out hunting or something, we come out and see each other for the first time, and we share tools and it’s really fun,” he said.

Lummi’s marine shop’s nonstop roll of customers had the store owners too busy for even a short interview but Sam Yoder who fishes on the F/V Thumper was at the store looking for parts.

“I’m trying to plum in a refrigeration system but unfortunately there pretty slim pickings for parts this time of year when everybody is trying to do the same thing,” Yoder said. “It’s a bit of a struggle. You got to get creative when it comes to putting things together.”

Even though he was a little stressed about finding the right piece he needed the prospect of a large return and the warm sunny weather had him ready to fish, and the slogan on his tank top was a clear sign of that.

“That’s it man, suns out guns out, you know it,” he said.

Yoder has been fishing for 20 years and he wouldn’t think of doing anything else.

“You know, honestly, I don’t know what I would do if I had a summer off,” Yoder said. “I hear the 4th of July is fun but I wouldn’t know.”

All the fishermen in town seemed to have one goal in mind, to get their boats in the water. One boat even had a robotic fish singing the crews theme song for the week.