Monday, March 3, 2008


The days are getting longer, the sun is getting warmer and everyone has sheefish on their mind. Now is the time of year to get out your niksiks (jigs) and ice augers and head out on the ice to hook for sheefish.

Sheefish are found only in arctic and subarctic North America and Asia, but the Northwest arctic region of Alaska is the best place to find them. This website, , has lots of information about sheefish.

This is the size hook we like to use. They seem to like shiny silver lures, but when they are in the mood they will go for just about anything you jig at the end of a line.

This is a photo I took a couple years ago of Uyaana lying next to a sheefish that he caught.

Here's a fish that he caught last year.

Another way we catch sheefish is with a net under the ice. In the fall, when the ice is thinner, a net is placed under the ice. It is done with a series of holes, poles and rope. It's a pain in the butt to first set the net, but once it's in you can use it all winter. You chip the holes open and pull the net out. When you are done you use the attached rope and pull it back under the ice from the hole on the other side.

This weekend we hung out at Uncle Louie's camp to watch his pklace and the rest of his dogs while he is off running the iditarod. While there we helped check his sheefish net out on Kobuk Lake (Kobuk Lake is the local name for Hotham Inlet on Kotzebue Sound).

Pulling the net out from under the ice.

Kaija wasn't sure what to think.

I lined a few of them up next to the shovel so that you could get an idea of how big they are. These are average size.

We fileted a few out to put in the freezer.



Here I am ready to head back to camp. Look at my left eye. I half froze it the day before and it got all swollen.


Becky said...

We never used nets under the ice, but we did some ice fishing in Minnesota, using augers to drill a hole through the ice...but NEVER did we pull out anything quite so big as that! WOWZA!

I was telling my husband about your son's aunt being a there is an uncle that is a musher too? That's so cool!

And by the way, Cathy...YOU DA WOMAN, fileting the fish and everything, lol! I love to fish. I enjoy eating fish. But I have yet to clean and filet my own fish.

Bobbie said...

Quite a fascinating story. I had never heard of Sheefish.

CabinDweller said...

I'm so jealous. A friend of mine here in Squarebanks passed along some sheefish she had in the freezer and didn't know exactly what to do with. It was a bit freezer burnt, not really quaq material, so I simmered it for stock and used the stock and the cooked fish as the base for a ridiculously good seafood gumbo.

I am so pro-sheefish now.

Anonymous said...

Wow, these are neat pictures, I live in Missouri, I know someone in Kotzebue, she told me about this site. We're fishing for crappie here, they aren't that big, but still good eating. I love your pictures, and story.