Keree Smith

“Bristol Bay possesses a raw energy that no words or photos can truly bring justice.”

How do you describe the Bristol Bay waters & fishery to those who’ve never been?
Bristol Bay possesses a raw energy that no words or photos can truly bring justice. The Bay is a truly wild place. A place where pristine wild lands and tundra stretch to the toe of the ocean. A place where only a few remote villages nestle along the river mouth. A place with no hatcheries or farmed fishing. A place where time doesn’t keep track. Bristol Bay is a place of true, wild abundance. 

Whom do you typically fish with? Tell us about your crew.
Fishermen are a special breed of folk. The kind of folk who like to live on the edges of the extremes. To be a fisherman, you’ve gotta be able to think on your feet, find the joy in getting tossed around in a 10-foot swell, laugh through 36 hours of sleep deprivation and help hold each other accountable all the while. Spending 6 chaotic weeks on a 32-foot boat creates bonds unlike any other. I consider my crew, as well as the other skippers in my radio group, my lifelines during the season.

Do you have any unique fishing traditions that you do during the season?
Every season I have crewed or skippered, I have made my own homepack. There’s something really special about taking a few hours or an afternoon to gut and filet a cooler full of fish to bring home.

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?
I feel so lucky to be a part of Bristol Bay at a time when the fishery is making history. Commercial fishing has become my livelihood and is currently my main source of income. I am dedicated to preserving Bristol Bay as an invaluable resource both for myself and for generations of fishermen after me.

What has fishing in Bristol Bay taught you?
Bristol Bay has taught me not to fear the unknown, but to embrace every challenge and reward each moment may bring. Will a hydraulic line burst? Will I run over my net? Will my refer hit the fritz? Or will I be in the fish, bringing in a huge set, elated that everything is firing just right? Bristol Bay elicits an incredible feeling of living in the unknown and a recognition that at any moment, anything can happen.

What is your favorite way to prepare Bristol Bay sockeye salmon?
Best way to prepare fresh salmon? Keep it simple! Sprinkle on some sea salt and lemon then bake in the Dickinson. Yum

Why should people choose Bristol Bay sockeye salmon?
Choosing Bristol Bay sockeye promotes small scale, individually and family owned fishing operations as well as supports a healthy, sustainable fishery. And the salmon is delicious.