Fishing for Herring

by Nicole Charlie

It is almost that time of the year where local villages around the Southwest fish for herring.

Eating it dry is the traditional way, but herring can be eaten in a few different ways.

When herring is caught, it first needs to be gutted to prep for drying or cooking. Sometimes, they prep and hang them in fish camps, or at the beach. They also save the herring eggs to eat dried or raw.

When the fish is ready for drying, there needs to be grass. Usually, women pick grass from the beach because it’s the strongest and thickest there. They braid the fish from their neck and keep going till all the fish are braided in.

It takes a couple of weeks to a month for the fish to dry. Sometimes people take half dried herrings for egamaarrluk (boiled fish), and ninamayuk (herring soaked in seal oil.)

Beatrice Friday said, “Most of the time I like them soaked in seal oil because it is flavorful.”

Jim Whitman said, “I like it dry because it is really good with uquq, and the taste is really good. I also like it dry because it grew up eating it like that.”

The season for fishing has changed due to climate changing. People don’t catch them by the end of June like they used to. Now they fish for them by the end of May or beginning of June.

Nicole Charlie is from Toksook Bay. This article was first published in the Warrior Weekly May 9th, 2019, a publication of the Bethel Regional High School.

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