Young CJ got a phone call from Harry Jay Follman, who owned the F/V Erika Lynn at midnight on June 20, 2018, “Our greenhorn just canceled on us and we need a replacement. If you can get up to Naknek by tomorrow evening, you’ve got the job.”
CJ was home from College, and waiting for a call to go to work on an IRI construction project in the Aleutian Islands. He never in a million years thought he would have an opportunity to fish the Bearing Sea.
Somehow CJ managed to get to Alaska and connect with Captain Kris at Naknek’s Silver Bay Seafood’s cannery. The bright-eyed, exuberant twenty-year-old, who hadn’t sleep in two days, joined the Erika Lynn’s crew and worked his butt off to show Captain Kris Jensen and Deck boss Jarha his appreciation for the opportunity to be there. He happily took on the usual greenhorn chores, including sticking and gutting fish, washing dishes, and cleaning up.
The high and low moments of fishing Bristol Bay, the adrenaline rush that came from working a heavy net and the disappointment of reeling in a light net, captured his imagination. The chaotic sights and sounds that accompanied the drama of forty-knot winds and twelve-foot seas taught him to never turn his back on the sea and to be wary of the dangerous nature of fishing the Bearing Sea.
CJ who cast off from the tender, after the Erika Lynn’s last delivery, was no longer just a kid. Five weeks of fishing the Egegik and Naknek fisheries change him forever. The sea had forged him into a fisherman. One, who had fished the 2018 Bristol Bay salmon run, and was looking forward to earning his stripes as a Greenhorn in the 2019 season.