New This Month

With My Brother, in Pursuit of Pink Salmon

Pulling all-nighters to find the fish.

orion crew drifters fish nelly
Photography by: Drifters Fish
Nelly and her younger brother Nate on the Orion. Nate is now the captain of the family boat they grew up on, running the whole operation and the crew of four young fishermen (Nelly, her older brother, and two of their friends).

The weather’s riled up today, blowing wind and web in my face as I stack the corkline that floats our seine net. The afternoon wind tosses our net around as waves spray saltwater over the boat rails and across the deck. We wrangle the bag of fish alongside, and with a combination of manual strength and hydraulic power, pour the splashing pink salmon into the fish hold full of chilled seawater. This week feels like summer storming its way into fall, with beautiful days feeling almost tropical backed right up to days of sideways rain and gusty squalls.

 

Meet Our Very Favorite Salmon Fishermen -- Nelly and Michael Hand
net drifters fish salmon
Photography by: Drifters Fish
Bringing the net alongside full of glittering, splashing pink salmon.

We’re all starting to feel the end-of-summer fatigue, hands blistered and callused, our arms and faces sunburned and weathered. Following the fish has us on the move, often pulling all-nighters and taking turns on wheel watch as we drive from one end of the district to the other in pursuit of good fishing.

drifters fish eating on the beach
Photography by: Drifters Fish
Anchored up in a favorite bay in Prince William Sound, cooking dinner with friends around a fire on the beach.

The movements of commercial fishing are particularly repetitive -- the motions of making a set, stacking the net, and loading salmon into the fish hold blurring the days of the week together. Those moments that make us feel alive stand out from the fog of our recurring routines as commercial fishermen and keep us going; heavy nets brimming with strong wild salmon, a bright sockeye salmon filleted up for dinner, late nights in our favorite bay building a big fire on the beach, and the alluring unknown of what tomorrow holds.

 

You Should Eat More Salmon: Here Are Our Healthy Recipes
drifters fish fileting salmon
Photography by: Drifters Fish
Filleting fresh wild salmon for dinner on the Orion.

We’ll be working our way through the pink salmon fishery for another week before Michael and I are back to our gillnetter, the Pelican, to chase the last salmon of our summer, Alaska’s wild Copper River Coho.

orion salmon fishing boat drifters fish
Photography by: Drifters Fish
The Orion driving through Prince William Sound in Southcentral Alaska fishing for wild pink salmon.

Follow Nelly and Michael's fishing season, they're sharing their stories with us every Thursday here on marthastewart.com (As long as they're in cell range!)

 

 

Watch how to make grilled salmon with citrus (and learn how to prevent the fish from sticking to the grill):