Yes, girls fish too

Jun 21, 2017

“I’m just going to be the girliest girl and catch a million fish,” says Maddy Marinkovich. She and Sophia have grown up fishing Bristol Bay's salmon fishery, and now are funding their college by picking fish.

Maddy Marinkovich learned to stitch nets from her father.
Credit Caitlin Tan / KDLG

KDLG, Naknek: Amongst a sea of men preparing for the salmon season, one can find Maddy and Sophia Marinkovich mending net for their dad.

Both are in their early 20’s and consider fishing their lifestyle.

“It’s not as much of a make it work – that’s the thing we need to get over,” Sophia said. “It’s like girls can be girls and fish at the same time.”

They are from Washington but have been fishing in Bristol Bay for years. Maddy has come since she was 11 years old, and Sophia has come for four years. However, this is their first year working together on the same boat.

“I have never been more excited honestly,” Maddy said. “I love my crew this year. We are going to kill it.”

Maddy said she spent one summer away from fishing and realized the boat is where she belongs.

“I wanted the year off and I had it and it was amazing. But it was weird, I know this is where I belong,” she said.

She added that over the years she has become increasingly aware of the lack of women in commercial fishing; however, this year she said she has noticed more of a female presence.

“It was weird growing up and being surrounded by men and learning how to be a fisherman in Alaska and also be a girl,” Maddy said. “In the past it’s been a little confusing what my role is as a female on a boat and if that’s even okay. But, this year I’m stoked about it.”

Matt Marinkovich, Sophia and Maddy’s father and captain of the ‘Sandman,’ said there is no other crew he would rather have than his girls. If anything, he said having women on board helps stabilize emotions.

“Their my girls and their coming up with me, and we are going fishing,” Matt said. “It’s not a relative question because that’s just what it is.”

The Marinkovich family stitches up their net to prepare for water.
Credit Caitlin Tan / KDLG

Sophia said it has been an experience to see her dad as a captain in Bristol Bay, rather than just a father at home. She added it has brought them closer together.

“It’s a completely different experience,” she said. “He really knows what he’s doing and that part really shines fishing, but not so much at home. I like being a part of both lives.”

Both girls use their fishing money to put themselves through college at Western Washington University. They also have a twelve-year-old sister who will eventually join them in Bristol Bay. But for now, they are focused on mending nets for the season ahead.

“I’m just going to be the girliest girl and catch a million fish,” Maddy said.

They will fish for Silver Bay Seafoods and plan to be in the water this week.

Reach the author at fish@kdlg.org, caitlin@kdlg.org, or calling the station at 907-842-5281.