Family portrait

The Susan Gale sets on a record catch of herring in Togiak, Alaska, on May 17, 1988. Anderson family photo.

Alaska’s Anderson clan finds definition and identity in a moment captured on a record-breaking 30-minute herring set

It was 1988, the end of spring and the dawn of summer in Togiak, Alaska, as fishermen were lined up eagerly awaiting the start of her-ring season. With only a half-hour window to set on fish that day, herring seining was one of the shortest and most intense fisheries out there — no place for amateurs. One of the 239 captains wait-ing to pounce was 30-year-old Dean Anderson on his boat the Susan Gale, a 49-foot fiberglass beauty named after my mother.

Within those 30 minutes, my dad would make one of the largest sets in herring history: 660 tons worth $600,000, a job that would take 11 tenders and 48 hours to pump out.There was no Internet, just one camera and a few fishermen to witness the scene. Serene yet so powerful, sentimental, nostalgic — those are the words that come to mind when I gaze at this snap-shot of one of the largest herring sets ever made. Almost 30 years later, we still reflect on this family gem: an immortalization of commercial fishing at its prime and a silhouette representing more than just a boat but a legacy shaped by the captain himself — my dad.

Download a PDF of the full story

Read more from North Pacific Focus

About the author

Ashley Herriman

Ashley Herriman is the online editor for National Fisherman.

© Diversified Communications. All rights reserved.