In the early days, Kodiak was a small, quiet fishing village, not much more than an outpost. The Russians headquartered here under Alexander Baranof and
hunted for otter pelts. Kodiak remained a small fishing village of about five hundred people until WWII when an influx of army and navy personnel changed
Kodiak forever. The town shrank after the war and once again, changes occurred in 1964 when the Good Friday earthquake and resulting tsunami destroyed
our harbor and downtown. Reconstruction began right away and Kodiak’s population and economy grew steadily as shrimp, crab, and salmon fishing expanded.
Today Kodiak is a bustling community with a diverse economy. Despite this continued growth and expansion, it is still fishing and fish processing that
draws so many families to Kodiak. It is with that as a backdrop that I would like to give you a glimpse into our fishing family’s journey to Kodiak
and how we ended up opening an online seafood market.
During the 1970’s, my dad began fishing for salmon in the waters around Kodiak Island. After starting a family, he set up a salmon set net site operation
on the west side of Kodiak Island in Viekoda Bay. I spent my childhood summers living at our family site, surrounded by several other fishing families
in the bay. Our cabin could only be reached by plane or boat, and we had no electricity. Our backyard included a large stretch of beach, a field
brimming with wildflowers, and a murky lake. Dad built our first swing set out of white fishing tubs. While dad and grandpa mended nets, my sister
and I made hammocks out of the discarded pieces and watched deer meander through the meadow. We loved to traipse upstairs and play cards with our
grandma. Her window overlooked the beach, a place constantly filled with human and animal activity. Bears frequented our beach and often ambled
across the sand and gravel with cubs in tow looking for clams.
We eventually sold the fish site and settled into town life, but we kept our connection to the ocean by sport fishing for salmon. Like so many families,
we relied on fish for our food supply and summers were taken up by processing, freezing, canning and smoking salmon to hold us through the winter.
During this time, my grandparents partnered with friends to start a hunting and fishing lodge, located 45 miles from town on a dirt road. We usually
made the journey out to the lodge on four wheelers since we had to use a rough cut trail that traversed several rivers, deep mud holes and a mountain
pass. We often spent weekends there meeting sport fishermen from around the world who traveled up for world-class fishing and bear viewing.
After high school I landed a summer job fishing with my friend Erica on a Bristol Bay salmon boat belonging to her father. Like many Kodiak kids, summer
salmon jobs are a way to help pay for college tuition, so I jumped at the opportunity to work as a deckhand alongside Erica and her dad. Just getting
to Bristol Bay proved a real adventure. Loaded with new boots, rain gear and a commercial fishing license, I hopped on a bush plane (they weigh
you before you get on!) and took the hour-long flight over to Naknek. Mom was more than a little apprehensive but just growing up on Kodiak is
an adventure and this was one more to experience. I remember spending the short season with swollen hands and a sore back picking salmon out of
the nets day and night, trying to prove myself among the fleet comprised mainly of men. My friend and I grilled fresh salmon on the back deck of
the boat. By the end of the season I was hooked. I returned twice more for the Bristol Bay salmon run.
Kodiak gets in your blood and after being away at college, I found myself drawn back by the pull of our Island home. I was able to get a job managing
two coffee shops, including Harborside, which caters to the fishing crowd. In summer our town bustles with a mix of tourists and young adults looking
for adventure and the promise of a big pay day from the Kodiak salmon season. Fishing boats filled with hard-working crews come and go, returning
with loads of salmon to hand over to canneries to process for markets around the world. In winter our customer base returned to locals and fishermen
who earn their living from a variety of fisheries including halibut, cod, and crab.
Fast forward a few years – I am married with my own family. My husband and I now focus on cultivating the same love of subsistence lifestyle in our
kids that we experienced growing up in Kodiak. To give us access to the fishing grounds close to town, we bought a small skiff and when the weather
allows, take our son and daughter out fishing. It brings back wonderful memories when I see the joy and excitement in their faces when they hook
onto a cod or salmon or even the occasional jellyfish or seaweed. Although they are still young, they are eager to help us with canning fish. Believe
it or not, my kids enjoy devouring scallops and crab! For us, fishing and wild Alaskan seafood is a way of life. It’s in our blood and part of
who we are. We depend on this sustainable seafood as our main source of protein. It’s clean and natural, free from chemicals and additives.
Building our online seafood market has created an opportunity for me to share with you my love of the seafood bounty our island so generously provides.
I look forward to offering you tried-and-true recipes we use in our kitchen on a daily basis, shortcuts for prepping seafood, and helpful suggestions
for planning your holiday parties. Feel free to reach out to us through email, phone, or on our Facebook page.
We look forward to hearing from you!
Kodiak Fish Market