Local fishermen use both fish wheels and nets to fish for salmon, whitefish, she fish and grayling. The river and sloughs teem with northern pike, too. Fishing here is a matter of survival rather than a commercial venture and the fish wheel can do the work of many men. The families who still practice subsistence depend heavily on fish and cache away hundreds of pounds for the cold winter that is never far away. Below are a few pictures of us setting the wheel today.
Our friend Mike pilots us out to the wheel in his boat.
On the way out my neighbor Keith explains how we will complete the basket supports today.
I thought Chris was born for the city but I was mistaken. The Yukon has won his heart.
We get to work straight away. There is much to do. Here you can see the two baskets attached to the central axle. They are blocked so they cannot turn.
Chris is more daring than I. I used a pole for balance to get to the shore.
Hard work indeed. Ernie augers holes on each side of the axle to hold vertical pins made of spruce. They will hold the axle in place.
Keith hammers home the spruce pins.
Chris fastens the basket supports. The frame and baskets of the fish wheel are made entirely of spruce with chicken wire lining the baskets. Spruce pins, bailing wire, and nails fasten it all together. With help, a skilled fisherman can build one in a day.
Ernie ponders ways to slake his thirst.
Homeward bound. Chris rests after a good day’s work.