The Salvelinus, the Sockeye, and the Egg-Sucking Leech: Reflections on Alaska’s Bristol Bay Drainage


Matthew Dickerson, a local author and Middlebury College faculty member, will share photos, videos, stories and ecological lessons from a decade worth of trips to various rivers and lakes in Alaska’s famed Bristol Bay drainage. Dickerson was a 2022 artist-in-residence for Alaska State Parks, for which he spent time in Wood-Tikchik State Park (the largest state park in the country). He has also spent considerable time in both Lake Clark National Park and Preserve and Katmai National Park and Preserve, each of which is roughly the size of the state of Connecticut. His experiences include numerous encounters with brown bears and a lot of time casting flies (like his favorite egg-sucking leeches) for ten different species of fish (including both sockeye salmon and three species of the genus Salvelinus, known more commonly as char). He spent time with fisheries biologists, park historians, fishing guides, and acclaimed bush pilots learning about river biology, fisheries, local cultures, and also environmental threats including proposed open-pit heavy-metal mines, proposed hydro-electric dams, and climate change—all on the headwaters of what many consider the most important salmon water of the world (Bristol Bay) that supports roughly 30% of the world’s wild salmon harvest.  Matthew Dickerson’s books that are set in the Bristol Bay region include The Voices of Rivers and the recently published The Salvelinus, the Sockeye, and the Egg-Sucking Leech, both of which are available through the library and The Vermont Book Shop.

Producer: MCTV