You've likely never heard a big fish tale like this

Jul 27, 2018

Every season comes with its big fish stories, but Dillingham's Allison O’Brien told KDLG’s Austin Fast about a different kind of big catch that altogether derailed her one morning last week.

Capt. Allison O'Brien of the F/V Flying Cloud grew up in Dillingham with her parents.
Credit Austin Fast / KDLG

Out in the Nushagak this summer, O'Brien and her deckhand Shawna Fike expected the typical engine troubles, overheating and possible leaks. They didn't expect something as simple as a stubborn tree caught in their net to set them off schedule for an entire morning.

O'Brien has been fishing most of her life. She said her mom started fishing in '68, and then her dad quickly followed "because he was a good man and listened to her." They went through a series of drift boats before her mother got pregnant with twins and switched to set netting the beaches near Ugashik and Egegik. 

"I can't believe you live here!" another fisherman told O'Brien this summer. "Aren't you bored?"

O'Brien (left) and her deckhand Shawna Fike wash out brailer bags at the Dillingham harbor on July 19, 2018.
Credit Austin Fast / KDLG

"I don't have time to be bored. There's so much to do," O'Brien replied. For her, living in Dillingham is all about subsistence and the race to prepare for winter. 

"We go upriver and fish and pick berries, but that's still work. It's all work, but it's good. That's why you see these handsome men and women that are older, and they're just doing it! They're not complaining about their backs, and their faces tell that story of, like, 'We don't have boredom! What's that? We don't have time for that,' " she said. "Once winter hits, it's like the pause button has been pushed, and if you're not ready, there's no work time anymore. It's winter!"

Contact the author at austin@kdlg.org or 907-842-2200.