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Young Fishermen Spring Features

April 25, 2018

Stories from time at sea are what keep fishermen connected in between seasons. The stories of others who live, work, and rely on the ocean keep us in touch with Alaska's wild waters and the lives we lead on them during fishing season. Each week we share a little glimpse into this unique life on the water as told by Alaskan fisherman. This project was born out of a desire to share an inside look at our community of seafaring people and their work on the water. The stories of these courageous, resilient people are what inspire us to do the work we do and share the story of Alaska's fisheries with the world! Enjoy the following words from a few of the fishermen we talked to this spring. We can't wait to hear from more fishermen about their experiences on the water this summer! 

If you know a young Alaskan fisherman you would like to recommend for this project, please email us at aksalmonsisters@gmail.com.

Molly Ekstrom
Salmon, Lingcod, California Market Squid | Kodiak Island | F/V Kaleva, F/V Little Viking | Yakutat to Sitka, Central and Southern California

What (or who) got you hooked on fishing?
My dad got me hooked on fishing. I used to get extremely sea sick but I loved fishing with him so much that I would beg him to take me. Because he had spent so much time on the water, and I loved being with him so much, it was an easy way for us to connect. He was able to pass his knowledge and skills on to me and I loved learning from him. I was also lucky enough to grow up in a fishing community. I was allowed to go on a lot of trips with friends just for fun. This included long lining around the local glacier and gill netting near my hometown. Not only have I commercially fished but my family puts out a subsistence gillnet every summer. I love the feeling of working hard to catch high-quality food for people. I also love being able to go on adventures to wild places while sharing the experience with people I love.

When you close your eyes and think about being on the water during fishing season, what do you see?
When I close my eyes I see the sunsets that signal the beginning of my workday while squid fishing. I see the whales and porpoise playing around us, and the sea birds leading us to squid. I see squid lights shining on the water while hundreds of tons of squid rise up from the deep.
When I think about trolling I think about some of my happiest childhood memories. I see the beauty of Alaska’s mountains, forests, glaciers, and waters. I see wild salmon hitting the deck as we pull them up on our lines. I see the galley stove and the gear hanging from the ceiling in the cabin. I see salmon gutted, and iced laying in the hold. I see the activity that raised and shaped me into the person I am today.


Eric Macias
Salmon |  Southeast Seine | F/V Silver Wave

What have Alaska's oceans and fish taught you? Alaska’s oceans and fish have taught me that there is danger and beauty everywhere; to never turn your back on the ocean; that I am cohabitating with Alaskan wildlife from whales to bears to eagles to fish – and to respect that I am part of their natural world.

Tell us about your crew! Do you fish with your family, friends, different people every season?
I have people of all ages and all backgrounds on my crew. I try to hire people who are passionate about being part of sustainable fisheries in the last frontier. I typically have someone who is "going fishing in Alaska" for their first time and enjoy seeing their perspective of the experience throughout the summer.


Henry Orth
Salmon, Halibut | F/V Radiant Sea | Port Lions, Seine


What (or who) got you hooked on fishing?
Growing up, I couldn’t wait to spend my summers in Port Lions, a sleepy little village by the sea, that always seemed to come to life in the summer when the first sockeye salmon arrived in Settlers Cove. A harbor that lay mostly dormant throughout the winter suddenly became an epicenter of activity, as the seining skippers, including my father, readied their boats for the impending first opener of the salmon season. Seeing the friendly yet competitive camaraderie of the Port Lions skippers, and listening to the often hilarious back and forth banter on the VHF intrigued me to the core, and I was proud to have a place on the boat, if only in jumper-spotting, and plunging capacity.

Is there anything you want to share to about Alaska's fisheries & fishing community?

Salmon is more than a species. Salmon is far more than a food; salmon is a story. A story of a sea. A story of these special fish and their amazing journey from the stream to the sea and back again. And, finally, a story of the people who risk their lives to be a part of this grand adventure. By buying wild salmon you are not only ensuring the livelihood of those who spend their days upon the sea, but also putting some of the most nutrient dense and sustainable superfoods in the world on your plate. Buying wild Alaska seafood isn’t your only choice, but it’s the only choice that helps protect an industry and a way of life that will hopefully exist for generations to come.


Grace Brookshire
Salmon, Halibut, Dungeness Crab | Moser Bay, Kodiak

When you close your eyes and think about being on the water during fishing season, what do you see?
When I close my eyes and think about the fishing season, I see the immense beauty of life out on the water. I see the lush green mountains of Alaska’s summer soaring around me. I see the deep blues of the water stretched out in front of me. I feel the sway of waves tossing the picking skiff and smell the salty sea spray as it drenches me on a rough day. I see phytoplankton twinkling in the wake of our crabbing boat making our way home after dark. I feel the excitement of halibut fishing, eagerly watching the hooks to see what emerges from the depths. But, mostly, I see the people - the faces of our friends at the next site over, the smiles of the cannery crew, and the cheerful greetings of our local tender. To me, the people of the industry are the greatest part of commercial fishing.

What do you want the world to know about your work as a fisherman and the seafood you harvest?
I think the most important thing that people should know is how to be a knowledgeable consumer in the seafood market. It is vital to understand where your seafood is coming from. When you walk in the grocery store and see salmon on sale, you can’t just assume it’s the same great quality being brought in by Alaska fishermen. With the purchase of any seafood, do a little digging to make sure it truly is wild-caught and that it’s not farm-raised. Not only will this extra effort ensure quality and help you avoid buying color-injected nonsense, you’ll be supporting an industry of hardworking people. Better for you; better for everyone.

Casey Landaluce
Salmon | Copper River Delta, Prince William Sound | F/V Clean Sweep

Tell us about your crew! Do you fish with your family, friends, different people every season?
We are beyond excited to have our son fishing alongside us during the summers, and to immerse him in the off-season work of net building and boat work. Getting the chance to work and play as a fishing family is the most incredible way we can imagine spending these years together.

When you close your eyes and think about being on the water during fishing season, what do you see?
When I close my eyes I see a juxtaposition of the most peaceful, relaxing hours of off time, adrenaline-filled mornings of big openers, and the long, hard grind that makes up the rest of the season.

 



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