Fish Seining Alaska Style

There were seven members in our family growing up in Unalakleet. Every summer we spent up river at our cabin. This was essential because we could not afford groceries most of the time, so we had to work very hard for our food in the summer and save most for the winter.

Our sein net was black and the holes were very close together so that the fish wouldn’t get caught by the fins or gills. My dad and one brother would work in the boat while my mom and myself along with my three other siblings would work the shore. This was the hard part because we did not have the horsepower of the boat motor to help us. My dad maneuvered the boat in reverse to let out the net slowly while we on the shore held the rope that was able to let the net out just enough to stay in the middle of the river. We had two favorite sand beaches we used. They had to be long, once the net was let out we worked with the current, not against it. We kept the pace of the boat and it didn’t take very long for the net to become heavy with live fish. My dad would bring the net in downstream of us and we were tasked to pull in the net just enough so that no fish escaped. Then the fun part began, all five kids and my parents used our hands to grab only the biggest fish and beached them. We did not keep the small fish, they needed to grow more and when we catched tubs full we let all the rest of the fish loose. It was amazing to be a part of and we got a lot of fish seining. Then the work began cutting the fish so they were able to be hung by the tail. My mom cut them perfectly and my dad was very good at washing them in the river and hanging them on a makeshift drying rack. Once all the fish were tended to we transported them to our cabin to be hung under cottonwood smoke and dried properly. Each day we had to check all the fish to make sure no bugs had laid eggs on them during the night while the smoke let down. We worked very hard during the summer but when the hard work was done we got to be free and wild in nature. It was the good life. I cut and dry the fish we catch the same way my mom has so many summers over and over again. I’ve lived a fish rich diet my whole life, except while I went through my deep depressions. I am very thankful for the unique life we grew up living, it is truly a one of a kind and I enjoy sharing stories, more so in person than writing. Never loose your uniqueness that is what makes you beautiful, to me each person is beautiful in their own way. To find beauty in all you come across, is a beautiful life, to look for fault in all you come across, is a faulty life. Stay beautiful!

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Sewskimo Gertz

I am who I am

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