For the past two months as we watched spring transitioned into summer in Alaska, Michael and I have been making the weekly commute in our small commercial fishing boat out to the Copper River Delta to harvest wild king and sockeye salmon. The trip is loud, long, monotonous, breathtaking, and captivating. As we pull away from the harbor in Cordova, we throw on ear protection (those over-the-head big muffs) as the boat engine roars up to speed. The diesel engine settles into its rumble as the bow of the boat coasts over the ocean’s wrinkles. We carefully navigate our way out the inlet connecting Cordova to the Copper River Delta and the Gulf of Alaska, eyes on the tide chart and depth sounder to avoid running aground on a sandbar. Sea otters roll and relax as we zip by.
We’re pretty worn out; the pace of commuting out to the fishing grounds, hauling fish aboard in the unruly ocean swell, commuting back to town to have our fish cut and shipped out to our restaurants, and then gearing up to do it all again has us beat. Keeping our energy up this time of year is a fusion of adrenaline, endurance, and the ambition Michael and I find from each other.
Working together as partners running a boat and a business can be challenging at times, but is also incredibly rewarding. I feel really lucky to spend the summer out on the water, head to toe covered in fish scales, with someone who treasures the same kind of hard work. We each have different strengths to contribute to the operation of running the Pelican and our business Drifters Fish, together we hustle through keeping everything running. During a fishing opener, I’ll take care of communicating with our restaurants and taking orders, while Michael is talking with other boats on the water trying to find the next best place to set the net.
As we turn the corner into July, we’re just about halfway through our time on the water in Alaska. Harvesting wild keta and pink salmon will keep us busy through July and August, and then we’ll finish our fishing season with the harvest of wild Coho salmon in September.
Follow Nelly and Michael's fishing season, they'll be sharing their stories with us every Thursday here on marthastewart.com
Watch how to make this easy, irresistible salmon dinner: