In an isolated bay on the west side of Prince of Wales Island in Southeast Alaska, Captain Scot Kandoll gave a crew member a casual nod to release the seine skiff and set the net on his 58-foot fiberglass Delta, the F/V Sisu.
The boat Kandoll was swapping sets with was one he knew well. As he motored the Sisu away from the skiff, his father, Brian Kandoll, stood a hundred yards away pulling in the purse line from the deck winch on another 58-foot Delta, the F/V Providence.
Kandoll, 41, grew up fishing out of Petersburg, Alaska, for salmon, blackcod and halibut on the Providence with his brother and two sisters, all learning their father’s trade while teenagers. Now two of his young sons Benjamin, 12, and Jackson, 9, take turns going out on fishing trips before they’ll be old enough to become full-fledge crew. The offer is extended to his daughter Ella, 14, and his youngest child, Henry, still has a few years to go at only 3 years old.
“Being able to take my family out is an awesome side benefit to the business,” Kandoll says. “It’s great having them on the water with me, and they like it a lot, too.”
Kandoll purchased the boat with a Southeast Alaska salmon seine permit, and halibut and blackcod IFQs from a retiring Petersburg fisherman in early 2020 and renamed it the Sisu. He’s from a Finnish family, and his grandfather also had a sport boat named the Sisu, so the name holds familial weight.
“Sisu means perseverance, grit, tenacity and hope. It’s basically it’s been described the psyche of the Finnish people, it’s their national mentality,” Kandoll said. “As a fisherman, that’s a good mentality, when times are bad it’s how are you going to work through it.”
Outside of the Sisu mentality, Kandoll tries to take his father’s approach to fishing, not just the method but a mindset of calm kindness — a rarity on the water. Brian Kandoll has been dubbed by many as the “nicest man in Petersburg,” to which Scot Kandoll chuckles.
“My dad’s very calm and levelheaded. From him I learned your problems are never as big as you think they are typically, so you have to able to be calm and think your way through,” Kandoll says. “Treating people well is important, realizing the crew and people you’re working with aren’t interchangeable and disposable.”
Kandoll has been working up to this purchase since his 20s when he bought his boat the Iliamna Bay, a 42-foot Ledford fiberglass pocket seiner, in 2004. He ran it for seven years gillnetting and Dungeness crab fishing. Kandoll even took it out to Sand Point for Dungeness crab fishing for one summer with his wife, Rachel. They renamed the Iliamna Bay as the Ella K after their first daughter was born.
In 2010, Kandoll sold the Ella K and purchased a Bristol Bay gillnetter he named the Ella K. Until this year, he would also longline for halibut and blackcod with his father and his brother Matte on the Providence.
Purchasing a seiner and halibut and blackcod quota is a huge investment, and while it seems there’s often doom and gloom on the horizon, Kandoll is bullish on the future of fisheries in Southeast Alaska.