Chignik Lake in 29 Photos: Melon-colored Dawn

sunrise chignik Lake alaska
Melon-colored Dawn

September is very much a transitional month at The Lake. There can be days of summer-like sunshine and warmth followed by days of cold, wind-driven rain. The Coho run is at its peak as each day hundreds and even thousands of fresh salmon enter the river. Almost all of the Chignik’s Sockeyes have come home, and by now they can be found throughout the upper river, including every major tributary and both lakes. Pinks may still be abundant (depending on the year), but the fish that remain are drab, nearly spawned out husks of their former selves. There are even a few ragged Kings still clinging to life, the females doggedly expending the last of their life energy protecting their redds. Day by day this effort becomes greater as they struggle against the current, are pushed downriver, find the strength to swim back upriver and regain their nest… only to be pushed downriver again until eventually they’ve given all they have to give. The Chignik gathers these great fish in her flow and carries them back toward the sea from where they came.

September is a time of promises realized on the Chignik, the entire valley burgeoning with life. It is a good month to look for bears on the river. Maybe the best. By now they’ve grown fat on salmon and are feeding regularly on an abundance of nearly spent Pinks, spawning Reds and an occasional fresh Silver. Cubs that survived the lean spring months have become roly-poly balls of fur and are beginning to occasionally find their own fish.

As the days begin to grow discernibly shorter, late summer and early fall sunrises linger a bit longer above the mountains surrounding the lake. I made this picture on September 4, 2020 at 7:26 AM, Gillie in the lower left foreground. (Nikon D850, 24-70mm f/2.8, 1/10 @ f/8.0, 55mm, ISO 100)

2 thoughts on “Chignik Lake in 29 Photos: Melon-colored Dawn

  1. Once again your wonderful writing of the cycles of nature have lulled me into a completely relaxed, soothing mood.

    I am also fortunate to have a small apartment in a 50+ year old iconic beach resort just recessed back from the dunal vegetation. My apartment faces a beach access track right in front of me. I am so frotunate to photograph the sunrises over the ocean, moonrises, & weather pics every day. In the pre-dawn twilight, the native birds start to twitter. There are at least 20 different species of birds here, but maybe there are more. Of course, there are seabirds that fly by along the beach looking for a meal washed up on the shore. Honey-eaters, cockatoos & other members of the parrot family squawk, welcome swallows duck & dive to catch small insects. Fruit & insect eating songbirds abound. Local people here are up early for their beach walks. Once or twice, I have seen Old Man Kangaroo hop past, then disappear into the darkness again. At this time of the year going into autumn, the mornings are beginning to become a little cooler, & less humid. Keep up the wonderful stories, Jack.

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