My spot, my family

Every family, friends enjoy summer tradition of setnetting in Cook Inlet

At any given time, three generations of fishermen - and women - can be found at the Every family setnet beach site.


Whether they're cooking clams for lunch, relaxing in between the daily tides or muscling up to pull in a net, one thing is certain: it's all about family.

"That's why we chose the beach," Chris Every said. "I drifted for 20 years and four years ago these sites came up for sale so we decided to go to the beach so it would be more family oriented."

Fishing Monday with Chris was his son Travis Every, 33, his wife Amber Every, 32 and their 10-year-old son Devin. Also in tow were Amber's sister Autumn Cramer, 33, who married Travis' life-long friend Justin Cramer, 33. Not to mention Chris' wife, Lori who watches Justin and Autumn's daughter Alexis if she doesn't ride in the boat.

"I grew up with Travis and his other brother, who is on the slope, Dustin," Justin Cramer said. "We all grew up together, and me and Travis married sisters. Small town, it keeps us all connected."

Both Travis and Chris work on the North Slope, which means they are away from their families for about six months out of the year. That's another reason why their setnet site is so important to their sense of family.

"If we drifted out of Bristol Bay, we'd be gone another two or three months," Chris said. "It (the site) is a way to get the family together, to see everybody. The grandkids go out in the boat, it's pretty nice."

For Travis and his wife Amber, fishing is a way to protect their son Devin and their two-year-old daughter Gracie's futures.

"It's gotten to be for our kids, that's why we're doing this," Amber said. "I hope that the fishing can stay around for them."

When he was growing up, Travis explained that summers were not meant for baseball or other sports, but fishing. He hopes the fishing legacy that was passed to him from his father will continue with Devin and Gracie.

Travis wants the natural resources - just like the family tradition - to continue to be healthy and active.

"Hopefully we can hold everything together as far as the river goes," Travis said, referring to the Kenai River. "And my kids can do it with their kids, that's what it's all about."

If the river is going to continue to stay prevalent in his children's lives, Travis believes management of the river has to be done as a whole.

"We gotta stop worrying about commercial, or guides or personal use, because it's all important," he said. "We just need to take care of the river first and I think everything else will follow in line."

A couple of years ago, Travis said, they were only allowed to fish for five days out of the entire season, which can make things very difficult.

"Try to run any other business and only work five days out of the year, see if you can make it," he said.

However, the shorter season, he said, was part of the deal.

"Hey, that's how it works," he explained. "It's fishing, it's not guaranteed."

Although the fishing season only lasts about a month during the summer, it's a year-round gig. Setnetting gear often needs to be fixed from regular damage incurred during the season, Travis said.

As the tide went out Monday, it was time for the family to launch the two boats that would be picking up the nets for a portion the day's catch.

Unlike using a drift boat, Chris explained that his nets are in fixed locations that can't be used elsewhere besides his designated areas.

"Setnet is a fixed location," he said. "This is my spot, I have to wait for the fish."

Since the tide was out, a tractor was needed to drop the boats into the water.

Once in the boats, Justin and his wife Autumn, along with Domino, a deckhand from California took their boat to the first buoy. Autumn and Domino grabbed the net and placed it onto the power roller, which is used to roll the net through the boat in order to "pick the fish" out of the net individually. The net is then strung back into the water for the next catch.

Today, there were some sockeye salmon, some flounders, and a king salmon. The flounders got thrown back in to the water, due to the fact, Justin said, there is no market for them.

On the other boat, Devin was proudly shouting orders to his dad to get close to another buoy. Devin, who has been fishing since he was old enough to be tied to a boat, he said, plans on continuing the family tradition as he grows older.

"I just think it's a fun time," Devin said. "It's a lot of work - it's fun at the end of the day."


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