OPINION: Alaska Wild Salmon Day: Dinner's up
It's been a good summer for Alaska wild salmon. Sport anglers from across the state and across the globe are enjoying world-class fishing. An epic Bristol Bay sockeye run brought a record season to gillnetters and processors.
Yukon kings are back in higher numbers than we've seen in more than a decade, supporting subsistence harvests. Copper River fish prices reached all-time highs —we're talking $75 per pound retail for early kings. Spring Kings were down in Southeast but summer catches are on the rise and have lifted hopes for fishermen there. On Kodiak, chum proved so numerous this season that one biologist called it "the year of the dog."
All of which means that this Thursday, Aug. 10, on the second annual Alaska Wild Salmon Day, we can spend a little more time focusing on a persistent salmon question that doesn't always get the attention it deserves: Which way to cook it?
When Gov. Bill Walker signed our Wild Salmon Day bill last year, Rep. Edgmon said he hoped it would become "the law that lit 10,000 barbecues." There is no better way to celebrate the wild fish species that is so foundational to our state than by putting it on a dinner plate. In savoring wild salmon, you are part of an economy, tradition, and way of life that is uniquely Alaskan.
So will it be sockeye on the grill with the basic combo — sugar, salt, lemon, garlic, and butter? Fatty king heads baked to perfection, so your kids can pull tender morsels of collar and cheek off the bone? Mild coho fresh from the ocean, with a touch of balsamic? How about chum with mole sauce, so that you'll never quite see it as dog salmon again? Don't forget to jar the pinks for winter patty melts.
And this Aug. 10, you can join thousands of other Alaskans for public barbecues and Wild Salmon Day festivities in Anchorage, Soldotna, Sitka, Dillingham, Talkeetna, and beyond.
Wherever and however you have your salmon, as that omega-rich goodness touches your tongue remember the clear, cold waters the fish was raised in: The gushing springs and rivers it rode to the ocean; the bracing sea where it feasted and grew to maturity.
And remember the effort you or your favorite fishermen spent to catch it and put it away in the middle of the night — how the yearly ritual of wild fish returning home for our harvest is what makes this place great. It is Alaska — the wild salmon state. Something to celebrate on Aug. 10 and every day.
Rep. Bryce Edgmon is Speaker of the Alaska State House and represents House District 37, which includes communities in the Bristol Bay region, the upper Kuskokwim, and the Aleutian, Shumagin and Pribilof Islands. He lives in Dillingham. Rep. Louise Stutes is House Majority Whip, chairs the House Special Committee on Fisheries, and represents House District 32, which includes Kodiak, Cordova, and Yakutat. She lives in Kodiak.