August sees the end to a successful fish camp year, as the Brown and Bommelyn/Steinruck families set up their camps in mid-July to begin their annual tradition of lhvmsr (smelt) fishing. Both family camps were blessed with fish, much more than in previous years, with an estimated 700 pounds caught between all fishermen. Below are pictures of lhvmsr fresh on the grass beds and on beds lined with beach pebbles. The drying process takes at least a week, weather depending.
The Bommelyn/Steinruck camp was able to catch an abundance of lhvmsr, creating seven (7) beds of fresh fish, which then condensed down to five (5) beds once dried. The runs also allowed the fisherman to catch enough lhvmsr to clean for freezing, canning, smoking and to give to Tribal elders, Xaa-wan’-k’wvt Head Start and those who helped out. Tribal Resources Technician, Jaytuk Steinruck, estimated total catch for SRR Tribal Members at about 600 pounds.
Cleaning lhvmsr is a messy process and consists of removing the heads along with the innards. This cleaning process is preferably done while on the beach while the fish is fresh in order to return all unused parts back to the ocean.
Jaytuk Steinruck, Tribal Resources Technician and camper, noted that the lhvmsr were actually running every other day towards the end of July. These runs dictate how long to camp, along with the weather. During his time at camp, Jaytuk recorded catches as part of our Smelt Habitat Assessment which will help us and the Tribe’s Ocean Governance Team gage the abundance of smelt off Dat-naa-svt and document the runs and Tribal take for 2014.
During camp, one can find ways to amuse themselves. The photo below is a fun design of lhvmsr that are almost completely dry and have been taken off the sand beds, this is the final drying process. Photo below is of Sheryl Suu-daa-chu Steinruck carrying dried fish to be cooked in the sand by a fire to only be devoured once cleaned of bones, fines, and head and then dipped in melted butter. Camp would not be complete without a day of eating dried fish and sand-bread.
Shu’-shaa-nin-la K’waa’-lee-shvm (Thank You Creator) for our ability to have a good year of lhvmsr, time spent with our loved ones and friends, and our ability to share with our community. We pray that next year we are blessed with another bountiful harvest. We share our gratitude and ask that we are continually blessed for all things. Heeeee (Amen).