We feed our sled dogs a mix of chum and coho salmon caught in the Tanana River. They're hungry puppies, and the fish this far upriver are not fatty enough to supply all of the dog's nutritional needs so we supplement the fish with fat and rice.
We primarily fish with 4 and 6 inch set gill nets. We check the net with our riverboat or canoe.
We start fishing in late August and keep going until the river starts flowing ice. For the first few weeks if the temperatures are warm we cut the fish to dry and hang it in our smokehouse. We keep a smoky alder fire going in the fish house to keep flies away and help the fish dry so they are preserved for winter use. We cut fish in many different ways with homemade knives. When we are cutting fish to dry, the dogs feast on cooked up fish guts and eggs. We cut the largest fish in a special way so we can tan their skins.
We also pick out some fish to dry for ourselves as salmon strips or freeze as fillets to eat during the long winter. When cutting strips to dry, we choose the nicest fish and carefully slice them into many strips, brine them, and hang them in the fish house to dry for a few days.
Once it gets cold enough (consistently freezing at night), we can hang the fish to dry without cutting and scoring them. We call these whole fish. This is how we prepare the majority of the dog fish. It is much easier than drying them and allows us to keep all of the guts and moisture in the fish for canine consumption. All we have to do to cut "whole fish" is slice a hole in their backs so we can hang them on sticks for storage. In a good season, we can provide enough fish to feed our dogs (and ourselves) salmon all year long.