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Young Fishermen Fall Features

October 07, 2018

Stories from the 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 fishermen. 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 with this fall. We can't wait to hear from more fishermen about their experiences on the water this season. 

If you know a young Alaskan fisherman you would like to recommend for this project, please email us at aksalmonsisters@gmail.com. Check @aksalmonsisters on Facebook and Instagram for your weekly Young Fisherman Friday feature!

 

Ramie Kraun | @DoeRamie
F/V Prelude
Sockeye Salmon
Naknek-Kvichak District, Bristol Bay, Alaska
 
How long have you been a commercial fisherman?
"I’ve been a commercial fisherman for 15 years, give or take. According to my Mom, my first actual ‘fishing job’ was when I was 9. My parents left me alone on the beach with a plugged 25 fathom gillnet during in-river fishing. I managed to clean the whole net before they made it back from delivering."

What (or who) got you hooked on fishing?
"Fishing has always been a way of life for my family and can be traced back countless generations. I have seen photos of my great grandparents setnetting the Aleutians using steaks in the ground! I was born in the month of April and was out at Goose Point, (our fish camp, near Egegik), with my Mom that June. I grew up around an amazing network of strong, independent women who have always been my biggest inspiration. Fishing, for me, equates to family."
 
Tell us about your crew! Do you fish with your family, friends, different people every season?
"I began setnetting in South Naknek with my Mom and Aunt who were kind and patient enough to teach me how to hold my own at a young age. Since then, I have worked every summer of my life either setnetting with family or on drift boats in the Bay. I now have a spot on our family boat, the F/V Prelude, with my Dad and older brother."
 
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 Kira drifting nearby, my old Captain Bruce smoking a cigar on top of the wheelhouse. I turn port side and see the Golden Girl, Ralph is making a “test set,” and he probably hasn’t touched shore or had a shower in 5 weeks. There’s Spare Mike on the 7 Z’s throwing us some frozen steak to cook for dinner. Eric, off the Earlijo, is talking over the radio to tell us he saw a couple jumpers near the Banana Trees as I spot Kyle on the Netta; the very boat his grandfather used to fish. I feel a huge sense of pride when I think of our boat group and the sacrifices they make every day for each other. Anything from a new fuel pump to the literal shirt off their back, someone is going to have it for you and they’ll insist they don’t need it for themselves."
 
What have Alaska's oceans and fish taught you?
"Alaska’s oceans have taught me the differences between patience and endurance, and how to balance the two. You can’t be angry at big waves, gale-force winds or a small salmon run. The same goes for your crew. There is no room for bad vibes on a small boat, especially when you rely on each other for survival. The pettiness falls away when you realize how fragile life is (like when your ankle gets wrapped in a buoy line and you almost get pulled overboard. You curse once, kiss the deck of the boat and carry on like nothing happened)."
 
What's the best advice you've been given as you embarked on your fishing career?
"The best advice I’ve been given is that your time spent on the boat is only temporary. A lot of people can manage the physical challenges but completely crumble under mental duress during the fishing season. It is best to be grateful for the few weeks you have with the salmon run and appreciate the beauty of it all; not to mention the unique connections you make from the wealth of like-minded people around you. Fishermen travel from all over the world to fish Bristol Bay and that is a beautiful thing. So yeah, keep a positive disposition and always wear dry socks."
 
What do you want the world to know about your work as a fisherman and the seafood you harvest?
"Once you catch, clean, and cook your own food, your relationship with what you choose to put into your body changes entirely. As someone who is fortunate enough to harvest wild salmon, I recognize the importance of sustainable resources and the quality of our seafood. It is important to know where your food is coming from and I sleep easy knowing that I am partaking in a fishery that has fighting chance to be around for generations to come. Wild Alaskan salmon has so many health benefits, but the fish also keep the community strong. Fishing brings people together and is a livelihood for many. If you take care of the fish, they will take care of you. For this reason it is important to speak up against threats to the fishery, such as the Pebble Mine. There is no room to be selfish when it comes to our salmon."
 
What is your favorite seafood recipe?
"My grandpa’s fish chowder is my favorite seafood recipe, hands down. The beauty of the recipe is that you can serve it in fine china and it’ll look ‘rustic’ but it’s simple enough to be made fuss-free on the boat’s cook stove."
 
Is there anything else you want to share to about Alaska's fisheries & fishing community?
"Being a commercial fisherman has lit a fire inside of me that is also recognizable immediately in other fishermen. There is something beautiful and twisted about the people who thrive working in conditions that could quite literally kill them."

  

Bristol Walton | @bristoldawn
F/V Sniper
Naknek and Nushigak, Bristol Bay, Alaska

How long have you been a commercial fisherman?
“I’ve been a commercial fisherman for... 15 years, started setnetting when I was 3 years old with my family."

What (or who) got you hooked on fishing?
"My dad got me hooked on fishing. He would take us out in the skiff when we were just kids and make us kiss the first salmon for good luck for the rest of the season. I also fell in love with the ocean at a very young age, and appreciated all the ocean gave back to the world, especially the fresh wild salmon that tasted so good!"

Tell us about your crew! 
"Our family has four set nets sites, as well as two drift boats. My grandma, cousin, and friends run the set net sites. My older brother is the captain for F/V Double Dippin' with his friends as his crew and I fish on the F/V Sniper with my father as the captain and the crew consists of my best friend, my two younger siblings and me."

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 waves tossing the boat back in forth, the tide coming in and out. I see the beautiful red sunset on the horizon to wish us goodnight and the beautiful Bristol Bay dawn to wake us up. I see the net turning into "white fire" as salmon splash against the net. I see hundreds of boats anchored up awaiting the next fishing opening. I see thousands of people who are just trying to feed the world one sockeye at a time."

What have Alaska's oceans and fish taught you?
“Alaska’s oceans and fish have taught me that we need to be humble and patient just as the ocean moves when the tide draws it in or pushes it out. Fish have taught me that we need to work hard for the money we earn and that we need to spend more time in nature to thank God for all he has given us."

What's the best advice you've been given as you embarked on your fishing career?
"My father and captain told me, '24 hours goes by no matter what you do, so you might as well do something productive.' This saying has taught me that life is about progression and learning to work hard for what you want. Commercial fishing has taught me both of these key qualities in life as I constantly strive to work hard towards my life goals and try my best to find ways to be productive each day."

What do you want the world to know about your work as a fisherman and the seafood you harvest?
"I have been commercial fishing since I was a little girl. Each summer I have grown in learning survival skills, work ethic, and learning to work as a team. I have held thousands upon thousands of salmon in my two hands throughout my life and each time I can't help but think, "I hope someone has a good and tasty meal from this fish." I am completely amazed at God's creation of this world, especially beautiful Alaska and the renewable salmon harvest that consistently comes back each season. I am grateful for commercial fishing, for it has funded me through college and has supported me through all my financial situations. I love Bristol Bay and I love fresh Alaskan salmon."

What is your favorite seafood recipe?
"Fresh sockeye salmon fillets, marinated in lemon juice, garlic salt, and lemon pepper. Then grilled, adding brown rice as a side and a salad. YUM!"



Maria Liliana Dosal | @mariamarialiliana
F/V Nicholas Michael and F/V Pacific Quest
Salmon / Herring
Sitka Sac Roe, Togiak Sac Roe, Area M Salmon (Sand Point), Dutch Harbor Bait Herring, Puget Sound Fall Chums

How long have you been a commercial fisherman?
“I’ve been seining for one year and before that I was tendering in Bristol Bay for three summers."

What (or who) got you hooked on fishing?
"My upbringing in King Cove allowed me to gain an deep love and appreciation for fishing but it wasn’t until I started working in Bristol Bay when I really got hooked. The amount of fish that run up there is astounding and the fact that we’re able to harvest a portion of ‘em for worldwide protein is so BADASS. The thought of feeding people all over the world gets me hyped every time I think about it. I’m thankful everyday to be part of an industry that can do that in a sustainable way. I didn’t take part in catching those fish up there but I did help transfer them to the facilities to process them for distribution.

Tell us about your crew! Do you fish with your family, friends, different people every season?
"I started tendering on my family’s operation in Bristol Bay with my aunt, uncle and another family friend. We had so much fun taking deliveries and getting to know the set-netters and drifters. We enjoyed making treats to hand out to the fisherman after the deliveries when we passed over the fish tickets to be signed. It was the least we could do for them after they worked so hard to get their catch." 

When you close your eyes and think about being on the water during fishing season, what do you see?
“When I close my eyes during the fishing season, I generally think in melodies and create songs about fishing that ring over and over in my head. Generally, they’re renditions of other well-known songs that I make into fishing jingles and sing often. This summer during Dutch Harbor Herring the fish were swimming “rul deep” and far offshore so naturally, Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” became...
We could’ve wrapped em uhhh-uuuhhhh-upppp
But they’re swimming way too deeeee-eeeep
We could’ve pumped em ouuuuu-oouut,
But the whales got in the wayyyy."

What have Alaska's oceans and fish taught you?
“Alaska’s oceans and fish continue to teach me lessons on different aspects of life everyday. I’ve lost friends to the ocean and have had crew members sent home due to accidents in storms so I continue to be humbled by the merciless sea and it’s ruthless weather. This is still my green year of seining and I have so much more to learn about whether it’s the about the weather, the gear work, deck and galley duties, teamwork, time-management, finance management, boat maintenance, physical and mental maintenance, problem solving, etc... I’ve only been doing this a short time and I’m really just getting started when it comes to learning about fishing."

What's the best advice you've been given as you embarked on your fishing career?
“The best advice I’ve been given wasn’t necessarily advice but a conversation with my mom when I was talking with her on the phone preseason about my insecurities about committing to a boat for X amount of time. She told me that the experience would either 'make or break me.' When things get hard on the boat and begin to wear on my mind, I always think back to that conversation with her and tell myself that I can get through it no matter how hard the circumstances. That’s the thought that really hits home and keeps me going." 

What is your favorite seafood recipe?
“My all-time favorite seafood recipe is King Cove butter clams fried in a half shell. And anything salmon of course. Recently I’ve been digging salmon with cilantro, lots of lime, bell peppers, and salt and pepper to taste. After it’s cooked I put some Mae-Ploy sweet chili sauce on. That’s the ticket to a taste-bud tantalizer. It’s a mash up of flavors that’s very fresh and light." 

Is there anything else you want to share to about Alaska's fisheries & fishing community?
"I always encourage my friends to take a walk on their local docks and learn about their local fishing community. Fishing plays a vital role in coastal economies and a walk down to the docks can help gain a better understanding of how and why." 

 

 More for Young Fishermen

 

This little book by Moe Bowstern is a collection of stories from fishermen, all writing about one thing: their first year as commercial fishermen and women. For some, it is their first and last season fishing. For others, it is the first in a long line. Regardless of how long they stuck around, their stories are fascinating. Grab a copy and get immersed in the fishing world's vocabulary, rituals, culture, and inside jokes!

Shop book on our webshop >> 

 

Most mariners encounter large ships from time to time. If you frequent busy ports, you may encounter them quite often. Navigating small craft in the vicinity of ships can be quite nerve wracking, but AMSEA has produced a short online presentation that will help you learn to avoid collisions with ships. 

Watch the videos and learn the rules of the road >>



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