The fish wheel is basically a mechanical dip net powered by the river current. When floated on the river, the current turns the baskets like a paddle wheel. Salmon, moving upstream, swim into the baskets and get swept out of the river. When the baske comes out of the water, the basket's tilted bottom channels the fish out of an opening and into a hopper on board the float.
This panorama was made the day before salmon season opened for the fishwheels. Normally these devices would not be sitting idle as people would be working on them to get them ready for opening day. However, the wind was so fierce on this morning that it picked up and flung glacial rock dust and sand from the valley floor making productive work impossible.
(There is another panorama of the fish wheel seen to the south. To vew it, click on the arrow pointing to it or select it from the thumnail photos on the bottom of this panorama.)
This is a subsistence fishery and very strict rules apply as to which Alaskans can participate and how many salmon they can harvest. Fish caught are "for personal consumption, and for customary trade, barter, or sharing" as stated in the regulations. Alaska law prohibits the selling or buying of subsistence-taken fish, any of their parts or their eggs.
Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait. Approximately half of Alaska's 710,231 residents (as per the 2010 United States Census) live within the Anchorage metropolitan area. Alaska is the least densely populated state of the U.S.Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alaska