We am a total sucker for these kinds of pictures. Eerie, evocative, beautifully composed, we love looking at them. Then we start to think how cold and uncomfortable it must have been, perhaps raining, certainly windy, probably damp or downright wet. Fishing was hard and dangerous work.
But it makes for great pictures and these are from a 68-page publication called Sailing for Salmon: The Early Years of Fishing in Alaska’s Bristol Bay, 1884-1951. It’s written by Tim Troll and John Branson for Anchorage Museum, as part of an exhibit from its photography archives.
Some of the men in these pictures might have been from Astoria; certainly some were from Seattle. We’re not sure when this picture was taken, but men fished using sails in Bristol Bay until the 1950s. The federal government, which managed Alaskan fisheries during those years, had no control over how many men and boats entered the fishery. To ease the pressure on the stocks, they mandated inefficiencies–such as having sailing boats to catch salmon in the Bay.