Touring Alaska

Haines, Alaska - Part A

August 16 - 18

Hitch-Up RV Park

The Alaskan Adventure - 84 Days - 7,161 Miles

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A major attraction in Haines is the Chilkoot river area.
It includes the Chilkoot river, Chilkoot Lake, Chilkoot State Park Campground, and Chilkoot Weir Adult Salmon Counting Station.

The Chilkoot Weir Adult Salmon Counting Station is operated by Alaska Fish and Game. They count the salmon which are going up the Chilkoot river to spawn. I was able to talk with both of the two counters. I learned a lot about their effort and why they are doing it.
They count every type of salmon, but only post the count for the Sockeye salmon, which is the salmon local commercial fishermen want. King salmon are not native to this river. However, around 15 King salmon are counted every year. I guess they get lost!

For every 10 Sockeye counted, they take one and cut a notch (sample) out of it's back and record it's length and sex. The samples are sent back to the lab and studied. It turns out that the fish from each spawning river have unique scales. These are like "river" prints. They also sample catches made by commerical fishermen and can tell in which river they spawned.

One of the counters is from Hamilton, New York, and thinks he heard of Bartholomew. Before I had a chance to ask his name he headed back to do more counting.

Chilkoot Weir Adult Salmon Counting Station
It consists of a fish fence made of metal rods space close enough so the salmon cannot get up stream. It is slightly funneled toward the middle of the river. The salmon slowly keep trying to get through the fence and eventually get to the slot where the counting is done.
Notice the fish in the water near the edge?

Most of these Pink salmon will spawn near the edge of this river.
And the bears will be here this evening for their dinner at the waters edge.

A Brown bear fising in Chilkoot lake near the mouth of the river.

Talking with the state ranger. He was from Watertown, NY.
He is keeping track of the bear activity near the campground. If a bear gets too friendly they have to eliminate the bear. The major problem is that the fishermen in the campground keep cleaning the fish at the campsite and do not dispose of the remains. That draws the bears to the campground. He said that the river can support the bears but they would rather eat the scraps left at the campsites.

The guy in the blue shorts is camping in a tent site near where the bear is now walking. The ranger told him to wait until the bear leaves the campground before going back. (He is probably thinking about sleeping in the car!)

Counting salmon while bears are fishing on the other shore.
There is a big brown sow with two cubs on the other side. The sow is pushing against the gate of the weir. The far counter is trying to tempt the sow away by tossing salmon near the shore.
While we went came down river from the lake we saw three large brown (grizzly) bears catching and eating salmon. All three were sows. One lost it's cub earlier this summer, another had three cubs, and the last had two cubs. Unfortunately, you can only see one cub (above the rock on the right) in the picture above. Since we both have binoculars we each were able to get a good view.
There were many Bald Eagles in the trees watching the fish. We kept hoping for one to swoop down and catch a fish.

This is how the tourist collect to view the bears fishing.

The salmon count is posted at the end of the weir.
When we were here around noon the count was 204.
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