Monday, July 22, 2013

Fireweed...not just a clock to tick away those summer days

I don't know about you, but Fireweed is kind of one of those bittersweet things for me...
It's quite beautiful, but when I find myself looking at it, it's never just in admiration of its beauty.
I just can't help but watch the flowers creep up to the top, day after day, until one day I'll drive by a patch, and inevitably, all the petals will have reached the top, signaling summer's end.

 Well, in Anchorage right now the flowers are in full bloom along sides of streets, near empty parking really can't miss it.

I decided, enough of this doomsday relationship with Fireweed. 

If anything, I should thank it for its reminder and make use of these summer days while we have them!

So onward and forward to Artic Valley I went....on a mission: to make Fireweed Jelly.

We picked until our heart's content and then we picked some more.  One overheated truck, several close encounters with bees buzzing by our heads and a tired baby later: we had our bag full of fireweed!

We picked all of the flowers off the stems, avoiding little green bugs all over the place, and then we boiled the flowers until the color was lost into the water.

 Add some sugar, pectin and lemon juice and we were on our way....


We got some jars ready, filled em up and not only did we get jelly all over the porch but....

VOILA!  Fireweed Jelly!

Of course, not all the jars jelled quite as they should, but we found some remedies for that.

 I guess the point of the story is, it's fun living off the land.  Sometimes, we get fish and sometimes we get berries.  Sometimes nature gives us a flower that seems to be a constant reminder of the cold dark days to come...but I say let's embrace the vibrant colors of that flower while we have it and make use of them!  Besides....fireweed jelly sure does taste good on a pancake.

For Fireweed Jelly Recipe I used:

For some other ideas on what to do with Fireweed Jelly:

And when YOUR jelly doesn't set?


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Numbers....What do they really mean?

On July 15, 2013 The Kuskokwim River Salmon Management Working Group met to discuss the current numbers and management recommendations for the Kuskokwim Salmon 2013 Season.  A general consensus from the working group members?  There are some scary numbers out there.
From Bethel Test Fishery, here's the report:
BTF – ADF&G reported that July 15th is the last day 8 inch gear will be used at BTF.  Every set is completed at 20 minutes except for if chum saturate the net, and then they pull it early.  Chums started off slow, but ramped up as of July 1.  Not a killer year, but it looks like they’ll have some surplus.  Sockeyes are looking good, but pretty much done with that run.  Chinook aren't doing so great.
Take a look at the numbers yourself.  Below are the numbers for Chinook, Chum, Coho and Sockeye.  The first chart are numbers from 2012, the second are from 2013.  For each species, it lists the daily catch, along with the cumulative number, meaning total so far adding all days up until current day. 
Looking at the charts for the date of July 16, here's how they compare with last year:
Chinook     2012: 404      2013:    261
Chum        2012: 5488    2013:  4833
Coho         2012: 2          2013: 42
Sockeye     2012:1160     2013:1137
2012 BTF Numbers:
2013 BTF Numbers:
So from these numbers, it seems pretty easy to say: wow there aren't as many fish this year.  Keep in mind, though, as much as things try to stay consistent from year to year at BTF, so that comparisons can be is still important to remember that the management of the river is different from year to year.  At this time last year, there had been a lot more restrictions on subsistence fishermen, which would lead to less fish being caught, and more fish at BTF.  This is just one area to be conscience of when comparing numbers.

As for escapement?  As you know, ADF&G has several weir projects to monitor escapement.  The numbers at the weirs aren't looking so great for the escapement of Chinook.  Again, it's important to look at what's behind the numbers sometimes... not JUST the numbers.  It's important here to keep in mind that at the weirs, it's still fairly early in the run, since they are a lot farther upriver than BTF.  In addition, conservation measures were taken to restrict to 6'' gear or less in some places over the past few weeks, and the results from those measures hasn't made it to the weirs as of yet, and when it does, ADF&G is hoping to see a bump in the numbers.
When asked for clarification on meeting escapement goals – The bethel test fish tool shows that they are 90% confident the state will meet the lower end of the escapement goal for kings (65,000).  The numbers at the weirs is showing a less optimistic prediction.  BTF is giving an indication that they are fine, but time will tell, this may not be the case. 

What about at the George River Weir?
As of July 16, The numbers for Chinook at the George River are significantly less than last year, about half.  Chum are looking about the same, slightly better; sockeye are putting in a small showing as well, but more than last year.  Below are the charts for Chinook, chum & sockeye respectively. 

A brief recap of what you'll find as of July 16 compared to last year:

Chinook: 2012: 1712      2013: 830
Chum:    2012: 17,014    2013: 17,873
Sockeye: 2012: 3            2013: 44

For data from other weir projects, you can get this information at ADF&G's database online.  Simply view their website here.
The working group will meet again on July 23rd at 10 AM. 
The call-in number for those unable to attend in person is 1-800-315-6338 (MEET); code: 58756# (KUSKO).
Call in to discuss your concerns, get your questions answered, share a fishing report, or simply listen in to stay informed.