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A LOVE FOR THE OCEAN

Silas Gnaedinger works on board the fishing vessel Wahoo out of the Port of Brookings Harbor. (The Pilot/Kurt Madar).
Silas Gnaedinger works on board the fishing vessel Wahoo out of the Port of Brookings Harbor. (The Pilot/Kurt Madar).

By Kurt Madar

Pilot staff writer

Silas Gnaedinger loves fishing, and loves Brookings and the Port of Brookings Harbor.

"It's one of the best ports I have ever had the pleasure of docking in. The people are so friendly, it's secure, IPH does a great job keeping it safe, and most of all it's an attractive port."

Gnaedinger, recently out of Alaska, is a fisherman aboard the Wahoo, a 54-foot vessel out of Port of Brookings Harbor. The boat is in port temporarily for repairs and welding.

"Fishing is in my blood. I plan on fishing forever some way or another," Gnaedinger said, laughing as he added, "Switching careers now after eight years on the water, that would just set me back. Also, you can't really make this money elsewhere."

The clean facilities at the Port of Brookings Harbor are a major plus for Gnaedinger, as is the proximity of local businesses.

"Everything I need is within walking distance," Gnaedinger said. "You've got all those nice little places in the port, then up in Harbor there's Shop Smart, The Wacky Tobacconist, and I can't forget Fox's Den."

Gnaedinger was born in the farm country of Palouse, Wash., a long way from the water. He got into fishing while in college working toward an education degree. "I worked in a cannery one summer. Then I noticed that the guys on the fishing boats were making more money, so I got on a boat that summer."

The boat was the Alice H.

"I didn't make much money that first time out. Then I got offered a good job fishing king crab and took a quarter off from school. I took the next quarter off to go fish opilio or snow crab, and then decided to keep fishing. I hate to say it, but I actually make a bunch more money fishing than I would teaching."

This was followed by the rueful admission, "Not to mention that I don't think I have the patience to be a good teacher."

Gnaedinger fishes mainly out of Kodiak and Dutch Harbor in Alaska.

"I love the adventure. People are always impressed when they find out you fish. They say ‘Like the TV show?' But, really, I do it for myself. I like the extreme aspect of it."

When not fishing, Gnaedinger, a surfer, travels. "I generally go someplace warm with good waves." Last year, he spent four months living in Oahu where the waves "were great, epic actually." He is impressed by how balmy Brookings is.

"I've seen a couple of palm trees – in Oregon of all places! I could live here for sure, especially because of the palm trees."

Gnaedinger's parents are retired in Nova Scotia, Canada. Though his father has built some boats, their only marine boating experience is sea kayaking.

"They like the fact that I'm a fisherman, though it scares them a bit so they require that I keep in contact as much as possible. You know, keep them updated as to when we are shipping out, what boat I'm on. That way if a boat sinks they can be sure it's not me."

The Wahoo, captained by Mark Thomas, will head for Kodiak and halibut fishing when the repairs are done.

"Mark is a great guy, I love working for him; one of the best captains I have ever fished under," said Gnaedinger, whose favorite aspect of fishing is living on boats. "I enjoy stepping out my door and having a deck that's on the water," he said, confessing to a deep love for the ocean. He thought for a moment and laughed. "Though sometimes I wish I could turn it off."

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