National Fisherman

By Charlie Ess

130828I shot this video during a whirlwind trip to Homer on Aug. 1. I took advantage of the opportunity to go out with my brother, Chris Ess, and his deckhand Matthew Stillman as they fished the last day of the Cook Inlet salmon opener on Kevin Hogan's boat, the Chipmunk. It was all part of a very long but enjoyable day.

I have been learning about video since 2010, when I bought a small digital camera for its ability to shoot high definition video. I was in for an awakening, though, as I reviewed my first clips and couldn't figure out how to make them tell a story. Something about that all seemed more intriguing than challenging, though, and I went on to shoot lots more.

The video of our last day gillnetting begs for more shots. I didn't get Stillman whipping up a dandy breakfast, and I could have stopped picking fish for a few minutes and captured that. As it is with writing, the creator always sees the flaws.

So far, I have been shooting everything with two GoPro digital cameras and my iPhone, which is really limiting. I am hoping to get a digital single-lens reflex camera that will allow me to do follow focus shots and shoot at various f stops.

I even got to compose and record the music that accompanies the video. I got an iPad for Christmas and was amazed to see that you can actually play the GarageBand instruments on the touch screen. You don't strum a guitar, per se, but you touch the strings to "play" the notes.

All my life I have created songs in my head, but never had access to instruments; so no composing. Well that ended last year, and I crank away and lay down a melody or a beat about twice a week. Like writing, the songs begin as drafts and I revisit them on my van rides home or on nights when I can't sleep. So I've spent hours and hours putting together various loops. Now, I can usually whip out what I want for videos in about an hour.

Thus far there doesn't seem to be any money in videos, but I am a neophyte, and someday I believe I will be rewarded commensurate to the perfection of my craft. I love to write, and I live to wake up to a blank page. Writing the voice over, editing the clips and making the music to go along with videos brings a sense of fulfillment like I have never known. I hope to make a lot of inspiring films before I die.

Charlie Ess is National Fisherman's North Pacific Bureau Chief.


Inside the Industry

NMFS recently released a draft action plan for fish discard and release mortality science, creating a list of actions that they hope can better inform fisheries.

We know that fishermen have to deal with bycatch by discarding or releasing unwanted catch overboard, but there is a data gap regarding how those fish survive.


A new study has identified a set of features common to all ocean ecosystems that provide a visual diagnosis of the health of the underwater environment coastal communities rely on.

Together, the features detail cumulative effects of threats -- such as overfishing, pollution, and invasive species,  allowing responders to act faster to increase ocean resiliency and sustainability.

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