Iliamna Fish Company salmon are caught during the yearly spawning "run" that takes place in Bristol Bay, Alaska during the months of June and July. The heaviest part of the season is the last week of June and the first week of July. During this two week period, an eye-popping, nearly unbelievable wall of fish push into the bay, coursing toward natal streams and lakes for one purpose: reproduction.
Catching fish with set nets gives us several advantages over other kinds of salmon fishermen. (watch it) Set net boats must be small, with a shallow draft, because we are constantly navigating in shallow water. All of our skiffs are approximately 4 feet deep and 20 feet long. Because we catch our fish in small amounts, our fish are never buried beneath tons of other fish, waiting to be delivered.
Because we fish in shallow waters with short nets, we have an extraordinarily low by-catch of 0.06%. This six-hundredths of a percentage by-catch (calculated from our total salmon catch) consists of only starry flounder (platichthys stellatus), an incredibly hardy bottom feeder. There are, literally, no other fish to be caught in shallow water with set net-sized gillnets. Per boat, a 0.06% by-catch is approximately 16 flounders per season, 90% of which we return, alive, to the ocean.