KNOW YOUR FISHERMAN
How do you describe the Bristol Bay waters & fishery to those who’ve never been?
The Bristol Bay fishery is a sprint of a marathon. It demands that you go as fast as you can, as hard as you can, for as long as it takes. The watershed itself is a pristine river system with a truly wild salmon run unsupported by hatcheries.
Whom do you typically fish with? Tell us about your crew.
I fish with people who know how to have fun while they’re suffering, have a solid work ethic, and aren’t going to quit. My first few years this meant largely drafting from a group of people from my past who have a reputation for problem solving and self motivation; people looking for a new adventure. My deckboss, Katie Riley, from Sitka, has an eye for details and won’t stop until the job’s done right. She holds the bar high for herself and everyone else on deck.
Do you have any unique fishing traditions that you do during the season?
During early morning sets our tradition is to play classical music for the first hour of the day. This is in honor of Porter McQueary, who started in my second season running a boat.
What has fishing in Bristol Bay meant to you and/or your family, what has it provided in terms of past, present, or future opportunities?
To my family’s future Bristol Bay means a livelihood and way of life steeped in hard work and pride in the high quality product that we provide for the world. I see Bristol Bay as an opportunity to share a unique lifestyle with family, both young and old. My first season running a boat, after my crew left at the end of the season, my dad flew up to fish silvers with me. It was his first look into the world of commercial fishing. My 13-year-old niece made her first trip to the Bay this year to learn to hang nets. This coming season I will have my baby onboard the boat. I look forward to sharing Bristol Bay’s abundance and beauty with future generations.
What has fishing in Bristol Bay taught you?
Bristol Bay has taught me so much about fishing, myself, and life in general. While troubleshooting and problem solving I’ve learned to start small. Your problem is usually something simple, and when it’s not simple don’t be afraid to ask for help. There’s a vast depth of knowledge and resources floating around the boat yards in the Bay, and someone can usually point you in the right direction if you want to learn. Sometimes you might even get too many opinions if you’re not careful! Fishing has taught me about business as well. I never envisioned working for myself, but the direct correlation between how hard I work toward an intelligent approach for streamlining and efficiency and what I get in return is incredibly rewarding.
The harder lessons have come in the form of mistakes. The sooner you make mistakes, the sooner you can learn from them. This has never been easy for me. Fortunately, I have an incredibly supportive husband who wholeheartedly encourages me to screw up, learn from it, and do better next time. This kind of goes hand in hand with learning to trust your instincts. When to stay, when to go, where to set, when to transfer. The most rewarding thing fishing in Bristol Bay has taught me (and is still teaching me) is how best to take care of the people working for me. It’s one of the largest and most rewarding challenges of running a boat. I strive to help people perform at their highest potential.
Why should people choose Bristol Bay sockeye salmon?
Bristol Bay salmon is wild, sustainable, and filled with omega 3’s.