Lacie Richardson, a poet and Colorado native, first fell in love with Alaska’s waterways as a junior in college. Richardson spent a year studying at the University of Alaska Southeast in Juneau as part of an exchange program. When she wasn’t in class, she was fly fishing. “I kind of became known in the community as this crazy, wild fly-fishing girl who was out on the river every day the second my class was out,” Richardson says. “People would see me hiking up some river with my rod, or trying to fly from the side of the beach.”
Richardson returned to Colorado for her final semester of college and graduated with a degree in English. The day after graduation, she got a call from the captain of a commercial fishing boat in Alaska. He was looking for crew for his boat, he said, and a mutual friend had told him all about the fly-fishing girl in Juneau – had Richardson ever considered working in the commercial fishing industry?
“I told him the thought had never occurred to me,” Richardson says. “But it sounded like a blast, and it got me back to Alaska.” Richardson bought a one-way ticket and headed north.
Over the next three years, Richardson worked in virtually every sector of the Alaskan commercial fishing industry – she gill-netted sockeye salmon, long-lined for halibut, seine fished and tendered. Then, she discovered salmon trolling, a fishing technique in which fish are caught one at a time, with one hook and one line. To Richardson, the art and strategy of trolling, as well as the way of life it represented, were irresistible. Salmon trollers like Richardson view themselves as stewards of the region’s waterways, environment, and culture.