Here in Cordova, we kind of have a language all our own. Every day, I learn new expressions and colloqualisms. Recently, I came across this prime example and couldn’t pass it up:
“We went out in my bowpicker to try and catch some humpie and we were really in em on the opener on the flats but we got corked so we just went back and went out the road. Guess we won’t be highliners this season.”
There are several interesting Cordova vocab words and phrases in here.
- Bowpicker – A bowpicker is a fishing boat used on the Copper River and Prince William Sound for the salmon gillnet fishery, called such because the net is dragged in over the bow, at which place fish are “picked” from it.
- Humpie – Another name for pink salmon, called such because they develop a large hump near the head while spawning. Humpies, although not thought of as such a delicacy for dinner, are often a very valuable salmon catch because of their plenitude and the abundance of buyers.
- Really in em – A phrase used when one has found a great fishing spot where the fish are thick and it appears they are going to have a large catch.
- Opener – A term Cordovans love to hear! It refers to the period of time that a certain area is open for commercial fishing. Openers can last anywhere from 12 to 48 hours, and it’s usually the only time there’s an open washing machine at the town’s only laundromat.
- Flats – A vast expanse of delta at the intersection of the Copper River and the Prince William Sound that is heavily fished for spawning salmon.
- to Cork – A slang term used to describe the act of setting one’s gill or seine net inside the fishable area of another fisherman’s net, and in so-doing “stealing” all the fish from the other person. It’s not only illegal, but very bad form and a sure-fire way to make enemies in a small fishing town like Cordova.
- Out the Road – A phrase referring to any area on the Copper River Highway past mile marker thirteen. As a popular recreation area leading to the Million Dollar Bridge and both Miles and Childs Glaciers, the Copper River Highway was recently titled one of Alaska’s Scenic Byways.
- Highliner – The term is used by fisherfolk to describe anything that is the best of its kind. Specifically, this often refers to the fisherman with the best catch of the day, week, month or season. Although it does not usually come with a trophy or monetary prize, the notoriety and large paycheck associated with a catch this big is typically reward enough. Historically, Highliner is the name fishermen have given to a ship that is returning to port with a catch so heavy that the ship rides low in the water raising the water line.
Do you know some more good Cordovan vocab words? Make this post better, and share them here in a comment.