Wally and Kathi Warm are owner/members of Seafood Producers Cooperative (SPC) and they fish on the Restless Wind, which is a 2-tote boat. A 2-tote boat is on the small side–theirs is about 36 feet long. Each tote handles around 1000 pounds of coho salmon or 800 pounds of king salmon.
Even though it’s a small boat, it’s a lot of work and a ton of fun. As Kathi says, “The cohos are work while the kings are fun.”
“The kings are just so graceful. When they come up to the boat, it’s a tiny miracle. You just end up having so much respect for them. The coho, when they’re really hitting, you’re just working so hard catching and processing them as fast as you can before the next one hits the line.”
“We talk to them,” Kathi says referring to the kings. “When you’re out on the water, it’s important to have that connection. We small boat fishermen have that connection between the fish, the water, life itself.”
Wally has been fishing since 1957 and has been an SPC cooperative member since 1959. He hopes to keep on fishing for as long as possible. As he says, “We don’t have to fish. Everything’s been paid for–the boat, everything.” Kathi chimes in, “We don’t want to retire. It’s just too much fun chasing fish.” Over the years, Wally and Kathi have seen some changes to fishing in Southeast Alaska. Shorter delivery times mean fresher fish. So they don’t stay out fishing as long as they used to. Which sometimes isn’t a good thing.
When it’s busy, Wally and Kathi don’t like coming back to town to deliver fish. Even beautiful, charming Sitka, with a population of around 9000, which is a huge metropolis compared to some of the places many of us co-op fishermen fish. “Too many people there. We like staying out and fishing,” Kathi says. “When we’re in the thick of things and the fish are biting, we don’t like heading back to port. We want to be out there fishing.” But regularly getting fish in or delivering to tenders quickly keeps the fish fresh and good.
A fisherman’s prayer
Wally has been recovering from a knee injury and his doctor told him to take some time off from fishing. “It’s not nice to think about not fishing,” he says. “We love it.”
We small boat fishermen love what we do. We take great pride in the product we deliver to you and we love what we do.