Know your fisherman
Fishing has been a part of Celeste’s life since she was a baby. She owns the F/V Dirty Deeds; owning a fishing operation has been a dream of hers since her very first season in Bristol Bay.
How did you get into fishing?
I’ve been fishing for forever! Ever since I can remember I have fished; when I was only 5 months old I started going to the setnet site with my family. I started going to Bristol Bay when I graduated high school because I wanted to try a different fishery. I got into fishing because I grew up in it, but I stayed because I became addicted and fell in love.
What makes you return to fishing each season?
I’m brought back to Bristol Bay each year because I became addicted to Bristol Bay the moment I arrived there for my first season. Every season is different and filled with new excitement. There is nothing more exhilarating than the bay.
What characteristics of the salmon product make it distinctive?
Bristol Bay sockeye salmon are fierce, unwavering, and magical. The way some of them are huge slabs and others a skinny little squirters, and some have green backs and some have blue, they are the most gorgeous salmon in the world.
How would you describe Bristol Bay to those who have never beeN?
Bristol Bay is like a grey treeless mud pit, but in my eyes it is one of the most beautiful places on earth. When it is 3 a.m. and the sunrise takes your breath away, you forget that you haven’t slept more than six hours in the last three days combined.
What has fishing in Bristol Bay taught you?
Fishing in Bristol Bay has taught me more than 17 years of schooling, including a college degree. There is more that goes into fishing than meets the eye - the act of fishing is less than half the battle. There is so much gear work and mechanical work that takes place in the off-season. In the first season of running my boat I learned more than the five seasons I did as a deckhand. I have been forced to learn how diesel engines work, which still is somewhat of a mystery to me. As well as keeping the boat running, I now also have to find the fish and make sure that my net and boat do not go over the line in the process. The bay as also taught me strength, independence, perseverance, and confidence. There are so many things the bay has taught me that I have not touched on, it is a somewhat indescribable type of schooling.
What is your favorite way to prepare Bristol Bay sockeye salmon?
My favorite way to prepare Bristol Bay sockeye salmon is grilling it up fresh with salt and pepper and a big batch of quinoa.
When you close your eyes and think about being on the water in Bristol Bay, what do you see?
When I close my eyes I see fish jumping like popcorn coming right for my net with no boats around me. There is nothing better than that!
Whom do you typically fish with?
Over the years I have been honored to get to fish with a variety of different people, some related to me, some not. Regardless, fishing creates an unbreakable bond between each and every person I have crewed alongside/with.
This last summer I ran a boat for the first time and I hired crew last minute. I expected to end up with subpar crew members, but I ended up with the best crew ever. Neither of them had fished Bristol Bay before, but they picked everything extremely fast and kicked butt! I am lucky enough to have both my crew gals coming back with me for a second season.
What words of wisdom would you give to someone who was considering becoming a commercial fisherman?
All I can really say is DO IT! Fishing is an addiction I will never be able to quit.