“Aaguum,” he said to Great Papa Ralph. A 12-pound jack king lay inside the gray tote and my dad said it was plenty. Great Papa smiled in agreement. I also smiled with gratefulness knowing there was a coming taste of buttery & rich barbecued king salmon, but what lay underneath my smile was a feeling of sadness.
After five sets during the prime of Chinook salmon fishing in the Norton Sound, Dad caught one jack king. The same man, 20 years earlier, was part of a commercial Chinook salmon fishery in the same waters. And then they were huge. Fifty pounds. Salmon not only helped build the house I was raised in, it was what we ate nearly every day from June to August. That night, Dad grilled the tiny king salmon steaks over charcoal and we savored every morsel, knowing that would be our only taste of the prized fish in a year.