The frontier spirit
By Jessica Hathaway
I’ve known Katherine Carscallen for a few years now. Long enough to know that when she is on a mission, it’s because she’s fully dedicated to the cause. She doesn’t do anything with half a heart or a partially made up mind. Nor does she act rashly or whimsically (except perhaps when procuring kittens).
When I saw that she had played host to President Obama on his recent visit to Alaska, I was delighted for her. Katherine, born and raised in Dillingham, Alaska, has worked tirelessly as an advocate for her home and livelihood in Bristol Bay.
I know she imagines that she was barely coherent upon meeting the leader of the free world, but I find that hard to believe. I’ve sat next to Katherine while she campaigns to keep Pebble Mine away from the headwaters of her fishing grounds. In a calm, unassuming voice, she approaches the task of saving her home waters with reason, facts and common sense. Like any successful captain, she’s smart, quick and to the point. She is, plain and simple, the quintessential American fisherman.
And it’s because of her hard work and that of her colleagues in Alaska and around the country that the president put the state on his itinerary this summer. Though honestly, those of us who have the pleasure of visiting or living in Alaska can understand why anyone would make a beeline to the Last Frontier. I am so proud of Katherine. I have absolutely no doubt that she represented Alaska, Bristol Bay and commercial fishermen in the best possible light. And if you don’t believe me, then perhaps her own reflection on the moment and on her life as a commercial fisherman will remind us all just how lucky we really are. Read Katherine’s Dock Talk on page 8.
Our cover story this month from Chesapeake Bay is another reminder of how to grab the bull by the horns. Freelance writer and photographer Jay Fleming profiles the blue catfish fishery in the bay’s tributaries. This nonnative species has the potential to wreak havoc on local menhaden, striped bass, clams and iconic blue crabs. But some local fishermen are filling their holds with the increasingly valuable catch. Read the full story on page 26.
You can head back to Bristol Bay on page 22, where writer, photographer, filmmaker and fisherman Douglas Alan Herman profiles his unpredictable and undoubtedly wild sockeye season on the F/V Windward.
We are closing up shop on summer here, but reading about the season, seeing your sun-splintered pictures and getting caught up with everyone who has been hitting the decks throughout the hottest season will keep us warm as the light gets low and winter settles in.