Glass Fishing Floats – Photo Gallery

  • Here’s an image collection of the Japanese and Russian glass fishing floats we have found over the years where we fish on the Ugashik River, Alaska. These are very special, and to us in particular. My father and I have collected these in the far reaches of Alaska since I was a toddler. He was a ship pilot and flew all over the state to help ships navigate treacherous waters. He would often take me with him.

    In the early part of the 20th century, Japanese and Russian fishing boats plied the water off Alaska for salmon and other fish. They’d blow these glass balls in foundries right on board their ship. On Japanese ships they’d recycle their sake bottles to make the floats. On Russian ships is was vodka bottles. They wove these floats into the top of their nets to keep them afloat. Thousands broke loose and have been washing on and off Alaska’s beaches for 50-100 years. Their thickness and shape make them incredibly strong. Every year they become more rare because none have been made since mid-century, and none will ever be made again. We find only a handful each season following the winter storms that drive them over the beach and into the tundra beyond. Each one is very special to us.

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