On this episode of Dan Does, host Daniel Geneen goes to Alaska to visit Kyle Lee, the founder of Alaskan Salmon Co., and join him fishing for the day in the Copper River, home to the fattiest and most expensive salmon in the world.
Salmon will swim up to 300 miles to find a birth home before they spawn, and they prepare for the journey by storing up fat. The Copper River is thought to be the longest distance traveled by salmon. Lee and other fishers try to intercept the salmon at the beginning of the migration, when they are their fattiest and highest value.
Geneen and Lee throw their buoy out as close to the shoreline as possible, giving the fish a chance to get by the fisherman — a regulation decreed by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. The goal is to get the net into the water as quickly and as straight as possible.
“When I first started, what I had a hard time doing was being able to throw the buoy out and set the net out fast enough to maintain the shape,” says Lee. “When the tide is ripping, you have to be really fast otherwise by the time you’re done setting the net you’re already so out of shape, then you’ve got to pick up and redo it.”
Once the net is set, Lee spends the whole day waiting for the fish to catch in it.
“When a fish hits, it’ll start bobbing like crazy so that’s how we know there’s fish coming our way or there’s fish in this area,” Lee explains.
The fishers also have to look out for local wildlife, like seals, that will try to pick fish off their nets. As Lee puts it, “Everyone out here is trying to catch fish.”
“Just paying attention makes a huge difference,” he adds. “That can mean catching two to three fish to a school of 20.”
Watch the video to see if Geneen and Lee catch any Alaskan king salmon.