April 4, 2013

Spring Herring in Sitka


This is Fish Radio. I’m Stephanie Mangini. Herring brings spring to Sitka. Hear more after this . . .

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When the herring hit the little town of Sitka Alaska, it means spring has arrived. Fishermen from all over come to take part in the derby style race to see who can catch the most fish. Long time resident Patty Dick shares what the sac roe herring fishery means to Sitka . . .

“Herring brings spring to Sitka. It’s just our life blood here. So it’s really a time for celebration when the herring come in.”

The Sitka harbors get filled with visiting seiners, all anxiously awaiting that opening call.

“I’m anxious  I didn’t understand it until the first year I went fishing. Now it’s like,  I can’t wait. It’s something else.”

“The competitive part of working as a team with other boats and planes. All coordinating  together and catching a lot of fish all at once. It’s pretty exciting when you get around them and you see a lot of fish on the surface.”

“Herring fishing is fast. Schools of fish can be really big. You catch a lot of fish in a very short period of time, and it takes some skill to catch them. And once you catch them that doesn’t mean your going to have them delivered either, Because there is lots of different things that could go wrong. It’s a kind of level of excitement that you can’t get in other fisheries.”

Although fun, fishing for herring will always be a gamble.

“When you get to the moment of letting go and the potential of your entire season is at stake, you never know what is going to happen.”

“ I think the thing I dislike the most is when I miss. And you see other people with all kinds of fish, and you don’t have any.”

“Politics. It gets chaotic.  You don’t know which way the fishery is headed. What’s going to happen to it or where its going to go. So politics is  probably the toughest thing for me.”

“It’s kind of like fishing for fun and profit. But now it’s more like fishing for fun. But we want to get some money. It’s a short term fishery. We don’t spend trip after trip, month after month. It’s a few weeks and it’s over.”

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Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods – serving Alaska’s fishing communities since 1910. On the web at www.oceanbeauty.com. In Kodiak I’m Stephanie Mangini..