Hundreds of extra passengers are aboard the Tsimshian Storm this morning as the foot passenger ferry makes its way down to coastal First Nations villages south of Prince Rupert.
That’s because Captain Dean Robinson of Metlakatla, B.C. is sharing the wealth.
With his family in tow, Robinson has caught thousands of eulachon on the Skeena River over the last week and a half.
“It’s the best year I remember in years,” Robinson said.
When asked how long it took to fill the five plastic totes on the vessel awaiting the departure this morning, he figured about three hours.
The day before, Robinson and his crew had 15 totes. Last Wednesday they caught another 18 totes. The catching has been really plentiful.
“We already took another load to Hartley Bay,” Robinson said.
Originally it was only Robinson and his nephew heading out to the river, but excitement around the bumper crop is growing with each day.
Proudly showing off a video on a fellow crew member’s cell phone of his nephew, grandkids and daughter on the river yesterday, he explained that his nephew beating the water with a large stick so they can scoop the eulachon up with a net.
“They congregate in behind that rock and log there so we chase them out,” Robinson explained.
In the video, children and parents watch from the shore in the sunshine, and Robinson and the others are in the water with hip waders and nets.
“We took all the grandchildren out there, they love it,” he said.
Robinson didn’t fish eulachon growing up, but always wanted to. He is originally from Kitkatla and moved to Metlakatla about 30 years ago.
“I started fishing for eulachon about three years ago,” he said.
When asked if he’s eaten any yet, he said they’ve had their feast.
His favourite way to eat them is dipped in flour and cooked in the frying pan. Some of the recipients will smoke the fish and give him some in return.
“I don’t sell any, but I always get something back,” he smiled.
People arriving to take the boat this morning were eyeing the fish inquisitively.
One woman smiled and said she loves eulachon.
A crew will be out there again on the river today. The spot is marked by cars parked along the side of the road, Robinson said.