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Pile-up in Pile Bay

Molly Dischner/KDLG

Several Bay-bound boats spent a sunny afternoon in Iliamna's Pile Bay, waiting for their turn to head down the Kvichak River. 

This year, about 60 boats will be hauled up the Williamsport Road on their way from Cook Inlet to Bristol Bay for the salmon fishery. 

Audio transcript: 

“We are on Lake Iliamna and we are roasting in the sun, waiting to leave.”

That was Jonathan Flora, and he’s not joking about roasting. It’s well above 70 degrees here at Pile Bay, which is almost perfect weather for hanging out at a lake.

Our crew is spending the day swimming, canoeing, and enjoying goofing off on WI-Fi – or using it to work.

We’re one of several boats that have anchored up here in the last couple days. About half a dozen other boats from the Kenai Peninsula, mostly all Old Believers of Russian decent, have taken off today. They were waiting out a religious rest day on Sunday.

We got here last night about 9 p.m. The Williams family hauls the boats out of the water in Williamsport, on Iliamna Bay, tows them along the 15 mile pass, and and launches them back in at Pile Bay, on the west end of Iliamna Lake.

Now it’s just the five of us and three guys on the F/V Independence. We’re actually not just here to enjoy the sun, says Ben Kerwin, one of the fishermen on the F/V Independence, the other boat still docked here in Pile Bay with us.

“We are headed, eventually to Naknek by way of the Kvichak River.”

But first we’re waiting for the Solstice, another Homer-based fishing boat, so that we can navigate the braided Kvichak River together, Jonathan says.

“Then you can hire a guide and you can have multiple people following that guide and if something goes wrong, one of those boats following you can help tow you off the gravel bar if need be.”

James O’Connor, also from the Independence, says it’s probably one of the last slow days of the fishing season.

“Well it’s kind of tough to know that you’re going to start working soon, just kind of anxious I guess, a little bit. It’s kind of a weird medium between hanging out, but getting ready also.”

Despite plans to enjoy the sun and download some audio books, Ben says he’s excited to get started.

“I’m excited to start fishing, get back in the groove.”

In the meantime, it’s about time to jump in the lake.

From Pile Bay, I’m Molly Dischner.