Commercial Fishing

•Nelly Hand•
From the waters of Prince William Sound

XTRATUF | AUG 17, 20

This summer, I’ve been working my gear and learning the waters of Alaska’s Prince William Sound through June, July, and now into August. Chasing the sockeye, keta, and pink salmon runs swimming their way through the bays, islands, and fjords that surround this wild place.

Prince William Sound

Together, my partner Michael and I are invested in this fishery, he’s captain of a seine boat called the Bounty and I run our 31 foot gillnet boat the Pelican. We’re really proud to make our livelihood sustainably harvesting wild salmon to nourish and feed people.

seine boat called the Bounty

We share the fish caught onboard the gillnetter direct to folks through our business Drifters Fish, offering provisions from the sea, smoked and tinned to enjoy. After the salmon season is over, we’ll have a small collection of this summer’s beautiful fish for sale on our website to stock your pantry shelf.

Fruits of labor

It’s been a slow harvest this year, but it’s part of the wildness of this work and chasing wild salmon. There’s a cycle and a rhythm to the fish that come through, and a big part of fishing here is the strong commitment to the sustainability of Alaska’s wild salmon. That means salmon to fill the streams takes precedence over commercial fishing. We’ve had limited time and area to go to work this season, the fishery closing for a few days or weeks at time in order to prioritize protecting the salmon population for a healthy future. On the days it’s open, we’re hard at work pushing ourselves and our boats to chase fish and haul up schools of salmon in our nets. The days off let our hands rest, spending slow mornings sipping coffee and cooking a piece of fish for breakfast on the diesel stove.

View of Gillnet

It’s part of our life to live in uncertainties, with the challenges of weather, boat breakdowns, and slow seasons but we feel incredibly lucky to call Alaska’s wild waters home throughout it all.

You can visit the Drifters Fish website here.