Cliff Falls is the outlet for Cliff Lake situated at the head of Deep Cove, an embayment on the east coast of Baranof Island with an entrance about 1.1 miles (1.8 km) west of Patterson Point, about 41 miles (66 km) south-southeast of Sitka and 17.5 miles (28 km) north-northwest of Port Armstrong, Alaska. Deep Cove was named in 1929 by the U.S. Forest Service. The head of the fjord is the site of a historical herring saltery that the Baranof Packing Company reputedly operated until about 1921. The location provided the only sheltered anchorage in Deep Cove and allowed vessels to anchor in 20 to 25 fathoms (36-45 m) in a fjord that is otherwise too deep.
Pacific herring are an ecologically important forage fish in the North Pacific ecosystem. Alaska Natives for millennia have fished herring as part of their seasonal rounds of subsistence. Since the late 1880s, herring have been subject to intense commercial fishing and local communities claim that historical populations were larger and spawning areas more numerous. According to traditional knowledge, Deep Cove once had a spawning population of herring that are now extinct.
There is general agreement that herring were overfished by the early 1900s, causing both local and regional impacts on spawning populations. By the time statehood was achieved for Alaska in 1959, and a modern fisheries management regime was put in place in the 1960s, many of the isolated herring populations in Southeast Alaska were gone. Today, herring stocks are essentially being managed in a ‘depleted status’ representing a fraction of their historical abundance and distribution. Read more here and here. Explore more of Deep Cove here: