We just returned from a week shoot in Alaska. We went up there to tell a success story about the halibut fishery. It was quite an amazing trip. The landscape and people were wonderful. I went up a few days early before our director and camera/sound crew arrived to do some scouting and to meet the fishermen/women and fish processors in person.
Prior to our arrival, we had a hard time getting fishermen and fisherwomen to commit to interviews and fishing trips over the phone. So I hit the ground running. My job was to find as many halibut fishers as possible. But I also needed to find someone to take us out on a boat so we could film halibut fishing. This was not so easy. It was salmon season, and the majority of boats were focusing on salmon. Plus the weather looked like it was going to get really bad by the time the crew arrived. So I lucked out and found a boat called the Kathleen Jo heading out for a two-day halibut trip. I did some fast-talking, and within an hour I was on board heading out to sea with two kind fishermen.
I had brought my HDV video camera and a tripod. I am not sure why I bothered to bring the tripod. It was completely useless on a boat. I ended up getting some nice footage of the fishermen setting three sets of long-line gear. I got a little nauseous, but managed to keep all my cookies to myself. It’s hard to keep your balance, look through a viewfinder, and not get seasick. By the second day I had my sea legs and filmed the fishermen catching halibut without feeling like I might need to find the leeward side of the boat. They only caught about 30 halibut, but that was plenty for me to film. They said it was the worst catch they had ever had. But 30 halibut ended up being over 600 pounds. They caught twice the pounds of yelloweye. It’s a kind of orange rockfish. The fishermen said yelloweye is actually tastier than halibut.
By the middle of the second day, the weather report was calling for gale force winds, so we headed back to Sitka. The director, Rob Whittlesey and the cameraman, Harry Dawson, met me at the dock. Later we met up with our sound mixer, Phillip Powell and went out for the first of many fabulous seafood meals.
The next day we went to a fish processor and filmed several boats offloading their halibut catches.
Since the weather turned bad, it had chased all the fishing boats back to port. So we had lots to film. And what’s more, the weather was going to stay bad, which meant we were able to interview the fishermen/women of Sitka. If the sun had come out, we would have been out of luck.
All in all, the shoot went very smooth and we got the footage we hoped for! Click HERE to see all the photos from the shoot.