EMMONAK — At the Yukon River's fish central, the warning on the door to the buzzing office of the big boss, whom everyone calls "Jack," says "Danger. Earache Area."
It's the nerve center for Kwikpak Fisheries — a small dockside processor with an outsized role in a region where jobs are scarce, the salmon are ultra-rich, and a unique commercial dipnet fishery provides early season jobs and money.
Kwikpak operations manager Jack Schultheis is buying summer chums from, as he put it, the only commercial dipnet operation "in the world." It's a novel setup intended to help rebuild crashed king salmon runs, but still allow fishing.
During scheduled dipnet openings, residents with commercial permits from Emmonak and nearby Southwestern Alaska villages head out in open skiffs.