To some fishermen, it’s all about lineage: Peter Anderson, 38, took up the fishing life on the heels of his father, Billy, aboard the seiner Equator when he was 12, and the lifestyle remained in his blood through the thick and thin of Chignik’s salmon cycles.
He went on to buy his own boat, a 41-foot Rawson seiner, the Patti Ann, in 2010, and now his crew is comprised of his kids, Carissa, Kelsin, Brenden and Trevin.
Besides the immense rewards of savoring days at sea with his immediate family, Anderson notes that other aspects of sockeye salmon seining appeal to him year after year.
“I like the freedom,” he says. “You get to be your own boss and work at it as hard as you want.”
Anderson’s indoctrination into the fishery involved hard work with little success.
“I’ll never forget the first time I ran my boat myself, without my dad,” Anderson recalls. “I got ready, and I just knew I’d have a big haul, but then I set and got corked (by another fisherman) and got only two fish for the whole set.”
Undaunted, Anderson continued to learn the craft of seining in Chignik, and a year later the scales tipped in his favor.
“We’ve had some pretty good seasons,” he says. “But 2011 was the best one. It was go, go, go all summer until late August, and everybody (the fleet) was disappointed when we weren’t brailing.”
When sets are smaller, seiners roll the fish from the money bag aboard over the rails, “we were getting 20,000-pound sets,” he says.
Though Chignik suffered a cataclysmic run failure last summer in 2018, Anderson remains hopeful that big seasons lie ahead for him and his family.