Know your Fisherman:
Matt is a teacher in Akron, Ohio but returns to Bristol Bay each summer on board the F/V Rebel.
“Living in landlocked Ohio, I had never liked the salmon that I tried. That all changed when I began fishing in Bristol Bay and discovered the red gold that is sockeye salmon. Now my freezer stays stocked with the stuff, and that will never change.”
Whom do you typically fish with? Tell us about your crew.
We fish a three-man boat with my captain Derek Dau, fellow deckhand Scott Walton, and myself. The 2019 season marks our fourth year together as the same crew. This is my fifth year with Derek.
What words of wisdom would you give to someone who was considering becoming a commercial fisherman?
Don't be afraid of a lack of experience. Show up on the docks with a good attitude, and be ready to soak up as much information as you can. At the end of the day the best deckhand is one who can roll with the punches. Try to always be in a good mood, and embrace the grind when the fishing gets heavy. And a good music playlist is required.
"From your old salty deckhand, to your family boat with all the kids and the family dog - there is no "type" of Bristol Bay fisherman."
What are the people who fish Bristol Bay like? What is the culture?
I have seen every shape, size, sex, race, color, origin, income, and background imaginable out on the water. From your old salty deckhand, to your family boat with all the kids and the family dog - there is no "type" of Bristol Bay fisherman. Because of the varied backgrounds on the water, Bristol Bay is a cultural melting pot. Everyone brings a little bit of their home culture with them, but we are all united in the pursuit of beautiful Alaska sockeye salmon.
What is your Bristol Bay Origin story?
I met my captain Derek through my brother Jason, who lives in Eagle River, Alaska. I'm a teacher during the rest of the year and was looking for a new summer gig. I spoke on the phone with Derek a few times and he decided to give me a chance thanks in part to the recommendation from my brother. I was able to prove myself, and this season will be my fifth fishing for Derek.
What is your favorite way to prepare Bristol Bay sockeye salmon?
With all the amazing recipes out there (and there are a bunch!), at the end of the day that salmon is so clean-tasting that you can't beat it sashimi style with a touch of salty soy sauce.
Why should people choose Bristol Bay Sockeye Salmon?
There are a million reasons why, but I will share why I now eat only Bristol Bay sockeye. Living in landlocked Ohio, good quality wild-caught salmon is either unobtainable or much more expensive than farmed salmon. As a result, I had never liked the salmon that I tried. That all changed when I began fishing in Bristol Bay and discovered the red gold that is sockeye salmon. Now my freezer stays stocked with the stuff, and that will never change.
What makes you return to Bristol Bay each fishing season?
I'd be lying if I didn't say first and foremost the earning potential I have. There isn't a single job I can do here in Ohio during my summers off as a teacher that is comparable to what I make in the Bay. But as an added bonus, I get to see the most amazing sunsets and fish the Ugashik River in the shadow of a pretty spectacular volcano. Lake Erie doesn't have that.