Sunday, June 6, 2010

Commercial Fishing Bristol Bay, Alaska

Click to view photos of Salmon Industry in Bristol Bay

It's a night time opening, the seas are rough, waves pound your boat, some splashing over the side. Rain and wind sting your face, chilling you down to your bone. You're tired, hands sore, but heart is pounding. You're ready to go.

Standing on the back of the boat with net in hand, you wait for the captains call. Other boats lay waiting as well, some spending the last few seconds trying to get better positions. Time ticks by, tick tick tick.

Then your captain yells go!. You throw the net out the back and the net unwinds out the back, your adrenaline pumps. Fish start hitting the net even before the whole net has been laid out. The net begins to smoke as thousands of salmon swim into it and get caught. It's going to be a great pay day.

It's fishing time in Alaska, so I'm heading out to commercial fish and document the red salmon fishing industry in Bristol Bay. I'll be on a 32 foot fishing boat for about 5 weeks. Bristol Bay is located in the Bering Sea, between Alaska and Russia. It's the most productive salmon fishery in the world. Tens of millions of salmon return every year to this area, to spawn.

Working as a deck hand on a fishing boat is tough work. You work long hours with little rest, fish through rough seas, and dangerous working conditions. When the run is in, it's time to fish and the place just explodes with activity. Captains fight for position, deck hands lay out 150 yards of net. It's like destruction derby, boats plow into each other, nets get wrapped up in propellers. Everyone fighting for a great payday. Over the weeks your hands and shoulders strengthen, your mental toughness increases, and have one hell of a time. For those of you who love adventure this is the job for you.

Click to view photos of Salmon Industry in Bristol Bay


  1. 150 fathoms of net......900 feet

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