george eliason, f/v tammy lin
Sitka and commercial fishing are George Eliason's passion and he comes by them naturally. Born and raised in the "Paris of the Pacific," his dad, Richard "Dick" Eliason, took him out fishing in the summers starting when he was around 10 years old. Fifteen years later, when he was crabbing commercially, he bought the Anna J from his dad.
These days Eliason focuses on trolling and longlining on his freezer boat, the Tammy Lin. When asked what he loved about his job he said, "I love fishing and everything about it: the partnerships, the thrill of the hunt and catch, being my own boss." He feels just as passionately about Sitka where 90% of his family still lives and where the fishing grounds are so close to town.
One of the benefits he's enjoyed is continuing the family tradition of fishing with his three children. Each started fishing when they were eight and today his two sons still take time off to participate in summer fisheries.
Eliason take his business seriously and sets a high standard for those just starting out. Every fish is handled with care. Longline fish are bled and on ice within a half hour. Troll caught salmon are bled by cutting the gill rakers, processed on board and down in the -45 degree hold within one hour. It's kept so cold that it's not unusual for a fish's core temperature to drop to -37 degrees, which keeps them at peak quality.
Quality is so important to Eliason that he will even keep two of his four lines out of the water if he is behind processing the fish. He follows the strict cleanliness guidelines set out by various government agencies, even putting chlorine in the glaze water. His crew knows that the final product can be traced back to their boat. Keeping focused on producing a consistent quality product will always be important to this Southeast fisherman.
Profile and photos by Mim McConnell