Gearing Up for Another Summer Fishing in Homer, Alaska

M/V Irish in the Homer boat yard. Photo by Clay Duda. Olympus OM2n, 35mm f2.8 lens, Portra 400.
M/V Irish (left) getting sea-ready in the Homer boat yard. Photo by Clay Duda.

It might be late April but the snow is still falling here in Homer, Alaska. My wife and I drove 3,000 miles to get here from Newport, Oregon, where I worked on a crab boat for the winter and she worked at a local shop. I thought we’d lucked out and completely missed the Alaskan winter, but here’s it’s frosty grasp reaching up to remind us we’re living near the top of the world.

Spring time in Alaska means a lot of work. The boat yard is abuzz with life as commercial fishers and charter captains patch up their rigs and get ready to splash into Kachemak Bay. The day I arrived in Homer I got a phone call to start working on the Irish and the Storm Petrel, two boats owned by North Country Charters, where I work. Luckily we’ve had good weather for most of the month, until the recent snow fall.

Slush Cup at Homer Rope Tow. Photo by Clay Duda.
Late-season skiing at the Homer Rope Tow. Photo by Clay Duda.

This is my first year working with North Country, though I’ve known the owners since I landed in Alaska several years ago. Sean and Gerri are great people, and their son Ben is a close friend. Currently Ben, his wife, and two crew men are stuck in Yakutat due to bad weather. They’ve been trying for nearly a week to motor his new boat, the West Cape, from its old dock in Ketchikan to its new slip in Homer, but the winds have not been on their side.

Spring sport fishing in Homer is one of my favorite times of year. The crowds don’t arrive until late June, and there’s tons of great halibut and king salmon fishing around before things really kick into high gear. Even though I’ve been in town several weeks I still haven’t made it out on the water yet (acting like a grown up sucks sometimes). But I’m not worried. I’ll have my chance.

Spring is also my favorite season because everyone is awakening from their winter slumber or flying back into town for the summer season. May is usually full of hugs and cheers, June is fun fishing, and then July and August are exhausting. By September you can eavesdrop at the bar and hear all the captains and deckhands cursing their lives (we work 6-7 days a week during peak season) and swearing they’ll never fish again. Then next spring rolls around and everyone is nostalgic for life on the water and jazzed to do it all over again.

A giant circle hook on the Homer Spit. Photo by Clay Duda.



Clay Duda is a freelance journalist and photographer. People usually pay him to write things. Here he does it for free.