We’ve been blessed with an early Spring after a cold, low precip Winter in Haines, Alaska.
And the harvest begins! Dolly Varden and sea-run Cutthroat began feeding about a month ago and continue to take flies readily in local rivers.
A sure sign of Spring is the arrival of Hooligan in May to the Chilkat and Chilkoot Rivers. Called eulachon, hooligan, ooligan, candlefish, or saak in Tlingit, these small, thin, oily fish are a prized catch as they turn our rivers black with their abundance.
Traditionally gathered and placed in pits along river banks, hooligan are allowed to ripen for 10-14 days, after which water is placed in the pit and brought to a simmer with scalding stones. As the oil rises to the surface it is skimmed off and then clarified. The oil historically served as a valuable trading item with Interior native villages and provided a much needed source of nutrients after long coastal winters.
I smoked my small catch this year and am excited to enjoy their remarkably oily flesh for the months to come.
Here’s to Spring & I hope you are enjoying it in your hometown!!