Fish Wheel

life in a village, northern exposures

Twenty nine below. Snow depth 9 inches.

Fishing rods are for people like me, looking for a bit of fun. When there is serious fishing to be done, the nets come out, or the fish wheels churn the river. I had never heard of a fish wheel, and was eager to see one. What a marvel of invention! They are anchored to the shoreline 10 feet or so off the bank; water supplies the power to turn the netted scoops. Fishermen check their wheels twice a day, morning and evening. They set aside most of their catch for the winter months, smoking some, jarring some, and jerking the rest. Our neighbors have a way of half-smoking salmon, then freezing it for long term storage. Smoked salmon is often boiled with new potatoes. I’ve tried it, adding some celery and onion and a bit of milk near the end to form a simple but delicious chowder. Jarred salmon is prepared exactly as it sounds by placing strips into a mason jar, sometimes with a jalepeno or herbs. Then they are pressure cooked until fall apart tender. Intensely flavored and rich with the salmon’s own oil, they are very, very addictive.

But it’s winter now;  the wheels are beached and silent, waiting for next year’s season.


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