This year, we traveled to Astoria, Oregon to attend the annual FisherPoets Gathering, a celebration of the commercial fishing industry in poetry, prose and song. FisherPoets has attracted storytellers and their many fans since 1998. We dare say it was one of the highlights of our winter, perhaps because February is a time that the summer fishing season seems pretty distant in either direction; Enough time has passed for us to mostly forget the rough weather, the smell of our raingear, little sleep and swollen fingers. Enough time has passed in the cycle of the season that fishermen are beginning to feel the songs of the sea pulling at their heartstrings again. Enough time has passed that fishermen have found time to reflect upon this thing that we do, for work, for our livelihood, for our souls, with our families. It is amazing to listen to fishermen from different places, different fishing areas, and across the Northwest, tell stories of the things we have all perhaps experienced or felt, but never had the words for.
We were awestruck by so many people on stage, and also people who brought their stories to share in different ways. The amazing Corey Arnold projected footage from the Bering Sea crab fishery onto a building in downtown Astoria. We truly couldn't pull our eyes away because of the way it made us feel both seasick and homesick for the Aleutians. Kirk Lombard, of Sea Forager Seafood brought copies of his new book "Sea Forager's Guide to the Northern California Coast," an amazingly in-depth compilation of knowledge, wry humor and colorful storytelling to guide readers’ quests to hook fish, dig clams, and pick seaweed for themselves. You must pick up a copy, even if you don't live in California! Another highlight was spending time with our fish art hero Ray Troll, who is the father of all fish puns and fish songs and awesome fish apparel too. Ray's band the Ratfish Wranglers really knows how to rock the house.
We also had a great time putting on a Fish & Friends dinner at Street 14th Cafe, who prepared wild Alaska halibut we brought with us, salmon from Drifter's Fish, fresh oysters from Hump Island Oysters, and huge prawns caught by J and M Seafood. This event was the first we've done like it, allowing those who attended to enjoy a delicious feast, but also to meet the fishermen who caught the wild seafood on their plate. Know Your Fisherman Posters were designed for the event, and are available on our webshop.
We can't wait for next February, and hope more fishermen from Alaska will join us!