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Sunday, September 14, 2008


If you're from Alaska I bet when you read the title of this post you read it 'subsistence' rather than sustenance. Subsistence is a big deal in Alaska. We like to think of ourselves as hearty individuals barely surviving on what the Land can provide in the last frontier. I prefer the term sustenance to subsistence because it really is not a hand to mouth type situation. I imagine subsistence as more of a down and dirty 'get the meat and chew on it' type of existence. When in actuality it really is about lifestyle. Sure we need the meat, but the getting of the meat on your own is really what provides the sustenance for the soul. It really is all about sustenance - I'm a happy individual because I provide for myself and my family subsists on what I get. And it's all healthy food to boot.

Today I went out subsistence fishing with Mike P and Preston V. We went out in a tiny Boston Whaler and set out a halibut skate (60 baited hooks all at once) (first two photos). Then we trolled for salmon while we waited for the bait to soak and the halibut to bite. We caught two silver salmon (third photo), and then went back and pulled the skate. And we discovered another good reason to think of it as sustenance rather than subsistence - we only caught one halibut. Hook after hook with either nothing, a sunstar, or irish lord on it (fourth photo - but I'm wondering if 'Irish Lord' is a little derogatory to the Irish?).

Still we did come home with 2 silver salmon and one 25 pound halibut. Not bad from the subsistence end of things, but I'd argue we did great on the sustenance end of things. Great day out on the water. Right now I am canning up all of the salmon. Mike is in charge of vacuum sealing all of the halibut into handy sized freezer packages. We did not get all of the fish that we need, but I am very happy that we will have to go out again and try to catch some more. It really is about sustenance. Patrick


mountainmama said...

Hey guys - I've been communicating some with Zoya on Facebook and am loving making the connections in similarities of our lives. Am now enjoying your blog in snippets & had to comment on this post. I would say that my husband thrives more on the sustenance elk hunting provides his soul than the substenance of having meat in the freezer, although we LOVE our stocked freezer. Am sure missing the fish though! Cheers & happy souls to you all.
-Annie (Holfert) Thompson
Carbondale, CO
Hometown: Kodiak :)

Zoya, Patrick, Nora and Stuart said...

Annie - we are off elk hunting on October 9th. Of course we'll be doing it 'Kodiak' style in a 50 foot seiner. Best way ever to go hiking on Afognak - skipper puts us on shore with minimal light weight camping gear and we hike until we find the elk. Then we call the boat and he comes and picks us up in whatever bay we ended up in. See past years' posts for photos (september/october last year).

I agree - elk are the greatest sustenance! Patrick