salty girl of the month

Salty Girl of the Month: Hayley Hoover, Cordova Alaska

 

Since we launched Salty Girl Seafood, one of the first things that people say is how much they love the name. Often we are asked, what does it mean to be a Salty Girl?  

salty: of the sea, sailing or life at sea.

This is a series of blogs honoring our kindred Salty Girls--women whose lives and livelihoods revolve around all things ocean.

 

Meet Alaskan fisherman, Hayley Hoover.

Hayley Hoover, Alaska

Salty Girl of the month Hayley Hoover is a fisherman in Cordova Alaska who, like so many fishermen, has a deep appreciation for the environment and feels the innate responsibility to protect it's resources. As a Native Alaskan woman from a multi-generational fishing family, the connection to the sea runs through her veins. She recognizes the role she must play in working to ensure the sustainability of our natural resources for generations to come. Hayley’s commitment to protecting the ocean doesn’t stop with her role as a fishermen. In addition to harvesting salmon from the gillnetter she has run since 2014, she's served on the Cordova City Council, the Copper River Prince William Sound Marketing Association board, works in education and outreach for the Prince William Sound, and the Salmon Fellows program - on behalf her community, her heritage, and our natural resources.

What kind of work have you done (what hats have you worn) to ensure a bright future for Alaska's fisheries?

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I've been on the Cordova City Council for a short time - I was on the Copper River Prince William Sound Marketing Association board for a little while - but I think the most important work I've been involved with to date is the Salmon Fellows program. As you may know, this program gathers together salmon lovers from across all user groups around the state to discuss sustainability and equity of the resource. I have learned so much by being surrounded by mindsets I may have never interacted with being in such a commercial heavy community. This program expands everyone's horizons so that we can move past allocation issues and get to the bigger picture issue of a shifting environment with unknown effects on the resource we all depend on.

Who first got you hooked on the sea?

My relationship with sea is intrinsically tied to my relationship with my father. As my fishing career grows so does my relationship with him. Since the time I was small my summers have been filled with memories of salmon fishing. It’s a family tradition that gives me a strong sense of self and place. Salmon are the centerpiece my family and I have built our lives around.

When you close your eyes and think about your favorite time on the water, what do you see?  

Alaskan women

Hmmm, this is a tough one. So many snapshots run through my mind when prompted with this question. When I close my eyes and think about the best memories I have of being on the water I see breakers and sand on the copper river flats. I can feel the sun beating down on me as I scramble to pick my net quickly enough to not get swallowed by the incoming tide pushing my bow picker up onto the beach. It may sound stressful, but it's a thrill a lot of fishermen chase. Always learning and pushing yourself to do better. The memory is so vivid - waves crashing around me - salt water dripping down my face - beautiful wild sockeye thrashing violently in my hands. There isn't anything I'd rather do. I feel so lucky to have been put on this path.

 

What was your path to becoming a commercial fisherman? What were some of the learning curves of just starting out?

I started commercial fishing with my dad when I was 12 or so. Since then every summer has been spent fishing in Area E (Copper River Flats and Prince William Sound). When I got out of college I decided to give seining a try for a couple summers. Seeing that many fish get pulled out of the sea and into a fish hold without having to touch a single one is truly exhilarating, but it wasn't for me. I decided in 2013 to buy into gillnetting and go at it alone. Having been a deckhand all my life I hadn't had much experience in the engine room of any boats. This I think was the biggest learning curve for me. With that much saltwater running through a big block engine things are bound to break from time to time and you have to be able to fix it on the spot. There's no one else with you to turn to but yourself in the moment. I won't say I'm an expert mechanic now, but I definitely have more confidence then I did when I was starting out and really the best way to learn is through experience.

What has been one of your most challenging days or trips at sea?

I think my first trip through the softuk bar was my most challenging moment out fishing so far. The anticipation alone probably fried my nerves for about a week! On the Copper River flats we're fishing in between and off of barrier islands. In between these islands are bar entrances that lead out into the ocean. The waves break hard at these spots, especially when the tide is ebbing out. I was anchored up inside softuk and had made a plan with my buddy to follow him out the next morning around 5 before the opener started. We made our way to the bar entrance. He went first, I followed. But in my nervousness I followed to closely. I was so afraid of loosing him in the waves that I forgot to watch the timing of the waves. When the waves are breaking you're supposed to throttle down and take them head on. I didn't see one coming until it was too late to correct the direction of my bow and I took the wave broad side. I think my exact thoughts were "oh shi*, I'm gonna die". Of course I didn't - but it felt as if I were going to flip over. The wave hit on my starboard side (my driving side) and I held onto my steering wheel for dear life. Everything in my cabin fell to the port side and my port windows were flush with water. And then all the sudden I was right side up again. I don't think I've ever felt so much adrenaline in my life. I was shaking. But the next wave was coming, so there was no time to indulge my freak out. I throttled up and got the hell out of there. Lessons learned - don't let fear dominate your actions + time your entry with the waves. 

 
Hayley Hoover
 

What does being a Salty Girl mean to you?  

Being a female fishermen is important to me - especially in this political climate. I love that the life I lead has the potential to inspire other women to do things they may have thought they couldn't. Normalizing women participation in typically male dominated industries gives me a sense of purpose and pride. It's like a public fuc* you to the patriarchy without the aggressive language.

When you’re not on the ocean, what are you doing?

I work at the Prince William Sound Science center as an outreach specialist. I help with web design/edits and generate a podcast titled Field Notes that's aired on our local NPR station (coming soon to iTunes).

Is there a Salty Girl in your life? Email us to share her story with us and nominate her as a monthly Salty Girl!

Salty Girl of the Month: Shelby Stanger, Adventure Journalist, Surfer, and Host of “Wild Ideas Worth Living” Podcast

Since we launched Salty Girl Seafood, one of the first things that people say is how much they love the name. Often we are asked, what does it mean to be a Salty Girl?  

Salty: of the sea, sailing or life at sea.

This is a series of blogs honoring our kindred Salty Girls--women whose lives and livelihoods revolve around all things ocean.

Shelby Stanger - Salty Girl of the Month

A surfer, traveler, and entrepreneur, Shelby Stanger touches on all things Salty Girl. She's the host of the inspiring podcast, Wild Ideas Worth Living, that highlights folks from all walks of life who have followed their passion and pursued their own wild ideas. We first met Shelby when we teamed up with Toad and Co, who sponsors Shelby as part of their commitment to ‘Keep Good Company.' By sharing the stories of so many trail blazers, Shelby’s work empowers others to live their passion. Which means not only has Shelby built her life around the ocean, she has made it her life’s work to celebrate others who do so.

We love how Shelby’s responses truly embody the candor and humor that this Salty Girl exudes. If you’re like us, you’ll find yourself nodding along and laughing out loud as you read this interview.

What do you love most about the ocean?

I love how you can’t take your cell phone or computer in it (guess that changes with the Apple watch). You have to be present in the ocean. Anytime I’ve ever dealt with something hard, couldn’t make a decision, or had a loss, I’ve gone to the ocean. It always gives me back exactly what I need - - sometimes it’s just a good beating, other times I learn patience, and often it’s just where I play and where my best ideas originate. It’s also where I met my future husband (after cutting him off multiple times surfing in Costa Rica until he talked to me), and where I met some of my best friends.

Shelby Stanger - Salty Girl of the Month

What does being a Salty Girl mean to you?

A salty girl isn’t afraid to get wet, to be gritty and who appreciates the joys of the ocean and all it has to offer. They derive their passion and drive from the sea.

When you close your eyes and think about your favorite time on the water, what do you see?

I think of all the times I surf with friends, or teach surfing to women and to disadvantaged kids or disabled veterans. I also think of one particular wave in Indonesia that changed me forever. The wave was called Mutz, which translates to “vagina” in Aussie slang, but it was no pussy wave. I had just quit my job to be a writer and was invited to surf in the Mentawais in some of the biggest waves I’d seen. Mutz was fast, hollow and it terrified me. I was scared I’d fall, make an ass of myself, or possibly die. When I finally caught a wave and its lip went over my head for a nanosecond, it changed me forever. I later interviewed surfer Mickey Munoz who said he once came out of a barrel in Indonesia ten years younger. He said it literally changed his body chemistry. After my one awesome wave at Mutz, I had a newfound sense of confidence that I’ll carry with me forever.

No matter where in the world I am I start my day with a cup of coffee outside. Any pre-surf or pre-work rituals that help you get your mind right?

I love starting my day with two rounds of Wim-Hof style breathing, five minutes of meditation, a little gratitude practice, some light stretching and then coffee with steamed coconut milk or a tea. The whole thing takes only 15 minutes, but adds hours to my day. I also love going out for a three to five mile run once I am warm or have done a little work. It clears my head and I usually can write all my stories and get the rest of my work done in my head in those first few miles on my feet. I love how running makes me feel – in my body and my mind.

Where has your love of the ocean brought you?

To South Africa, Indonesia, Fiji, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Canada, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Japan, up and down the coast of California, and even to Hawaii where I once had a boss I worked for at Body Glove who told me I had to paddle out at Pipeline or he’d fire me. It was a massive day and very crowded, but I padded out in the channel and right back in. When I get scared and it gets big, or even on days it’s too small and there are not many waves, I talk to everyone around me, so in that sense the ocean has introduced me to many people – near and far.

WildIdeasWorthLiving

What inspired you to start Wild Ideas Worth Living?

I worked as a journalist and marketing consultant in the outdoor industry for over 15 years and wanted to tell the full stories behind the amazing people I profiled. I also wanted to put out positive content about people going after their dreams, especially ones that seemed impossible to achieve or wild. I never get sick of those stories. I love listening to podcasts myself in the car, on the run or while cleaning, and I had previous radio experience. I took an entrepreneurship accelerator course at a place called Hera Labs in San Diego, which helped me create my business plan. I studied podcasts in depth and launched last December. It’s been an incredible ride.

You interview some pretty badass women for your podcast. What inspires you most about the women you feature?

Thank you. I love that they walk to the beat of their own drum and aren’t afraid to ruffle feathers to achieve their goals. The most badass ones have a great sense of humor.

If you could interview any Salty Girl in the world, who would it be? (Or have you already interviewed her…)

I’d love to take Oprah surfing. I also love interviewing female sailors. Liz Clark who sailed as a young woman to Tahiti is coming on the show. So is Kimi Werner, the spearfisher woman, who I am also excited to talk with. Nicole Levinson, a school teacher who quit her job to sail with her husband, Ryan Levinson, would also make for a great interview. She and Ryan left their jobs to sail from San Diego all around French Polynesia, and she’s learned how to do everything on a boat and has a great attitude about it all. They have a great YouTube Channel called TwoAfloat that chronicles their adventures.

Shelby Stanger - Wild Ideas Worth Living

As an entrepreneur, how do you balance running your own business with getting enough time on the water?

I’m lucky that we literally live in a condo complex with our own stairs down to the stand. When I am sick of staring at a computer, I pull myself away for a fifteen-minute surf and a dip in the ocean. I call it the three-wave channel and make it a game for myself. It sets me back on track and the negative ions recharge me better than any cup of coffee or energy drink ever can.

Is there a Salty Girl in your life? Email us to share her story with us and nominate her as a monthly Salty Girl!

Salty Girl of the Month: Corey Wheeler Forrest, Rhode Island Fisherman

 

Since we launched Salty Girl Seafood, one of the first things that people say is how much they love the name. Often we are asked, what does it mean to be a Salty Girl?  

salty: of the sea, sailing or life at sea.

This is a series of blogs honoring our kindred Salty Girls--women whose lives and livelihoods revolve around all things ocean.

 

meet Corey wheeler Forrest, a Rhode Island fisherman.

Our Salty Girl for the month, Corey Wheeler Forrest, holds a particularly special place in my heart -- she and I were born and raised in the same small town in New England -- Little Compton, RI. I remember seeing Corey and her family working their trap site from the deck of my own family’s boats as we headed out for the day, or mending their gear in their big grassy field on the way to check the surf.  As a third generation fisherman, Corey’s connection to the sea is in her blood; a tradition she began passing on to her two kids from the time they were babies. Her family’s unique style of fishing has been around for ages but their sites are some of the few still operating this incredibly passive and sustainable way of catching fish. Even though Corey must balance a lot of roles every day (fisherman, mother, daughter, wife, business owner), the grounding and sense of self that she derives from the sea and this way of life is unmistakable. We hope you are as inspired by Corey’s story as much as we are, and be sure to check out her beautiful and entertaining Instagram account @fishandforrest.

Tell us a little about yourself and your business.

I'm a married, mother of two, third generation commercial trap fisherman. I fish and handle/sell all the fish for my family's two floating fish trap companies and my brother's day-boat. "Trapping" is a unique fishery to Rhode Island, only a few of us still fish this way and it's been around for hundreds of years. It's a really cool, sustainable and passive fishery.  We are licensed to set in the same spots every year off the coast of Little Compton and Newport.  If the fish come to us we catch them, if they don't, we don't. The floating fish traps are like a giant Aquarium, held in place by 26 500-900 lb anchors, where fish are funneled into the "head" of the trap where they can't escape. Everything is alive so anything we can't keep is thrown right back into the water to swim away. It's really labor and equipment intensive, which is probably why not too many people still do this. As my dad says, "if it were easy, everyone would do it."

Who first got you hooked on the sea?

My family. I think it's just embedded in me. Growing up there were fishy work clothes hanging in the hall, a beat up pick-up truck in the driveway, fishing gear in the back yard. We didn't have a swing set, we made forts out of lobster pots. Our conversations always revolved around working the sea, and it still does.

What does a "normal" day in your life look like?  

I'm up by 4am. Coffee, sunscreen, organize myself. I check my emails and texts. It's pretty normal to already have texts from my buyers at the Fulton Fish Market. I'm at the dock around 5:30 am. We leave the dock at 6am, haul 1 to 3 traps (some years we've set more traps), we're usually back at the dock 9-11am where we sort, ice, box and ship fish. My brother hops on his 42 foot gillnetter as soon as we get in and hauls his sets. So I handle all his fish as well. I sell to wholesale markets from Toronto to South Carolina. The Fulton Fish Market gets the fish that night and I've heard stories about my fish still being alive in the box. I'm usually home by 4pm but I also have state required fish reports that I do at home. It's all-consuming mentally and physically and it's definitely hard to find balance at home this time of year. It's gotten easier as the kids, Finn 14 and Isley 10, have gotten older, and more independent; it's a team effort with my husband for sure (he's not in the fishing industry). When they were young I brought them to work with me. While they were babies and nursing, I took a few years off from being on the boat and just handled the dockside of things. I had every baby carrier they made! I look back and I don't know how I did it.  

 
"While they were babies and nursing, I took a few years off from being on the boat and just handled the dockside of things. I had every baby carrier they made! I look back and I don't know how I did it. "  - Corey Forrest

"While they were babies and nursing, I took a few years off from being on the boat and just handled the dockside of things. I had every baby carrier they made! I look back and I don't know how I did it. " - Corey Forrest

 

What has been the greatest lesson you've learned from the ocean and what lessons do you want your daughter to learn from the ocean?

We are all EQUAL on the ocean and the ocean does not discriminate...

The ocean can be welcoming and serene, unpredictable and exploding, poetic and playful, and also break and crush you. (James Joyce called the sea "scrotumtightening")! The ocean doesn't give a SHIT about your gender,  how tough you think you are, where you come from, your college degree, family name, socioeconomic class, what God you worship, where you shop or the kind of car you drive. The ocean is a powerful teacher when you realize you are not in control; you get to know yourself pretty well - mind, body, heart, and soul when you are  simply existing, adapting, and keeping afloat.

 I nearly got crushed falling overboard between two boats on a big seas day... it happened about 20 years ago; it plays slow motion in my mind though it was probably seconds before I was hauled back onboard by a dozen hands. Our Captain at the time (who undoubtedly had doubts about a woman being onboard), legendary trap fisherman and the famous "kissing sailor",  George Mendonsa, said to me, "did your boots fill up with water?...[yes]  NOW you're a real fisherman."

 
 

Who has been an inspiration to you in your life and why?

Definitely my dad. He just turned 70, looks 40 and acts 14. His enthusiasm and passion for everything is contagious and borderline manic. And I definitely couldn't do what I do without him. He pushes me, makes me laugh, infuriates me and often has more confidence in me than I do in myself.  

 
"[My dad] pushes me, makes me laugh, infuriates me and often has more confidence in me than I do in myself."  - Corey Forrest 

"[My dad] pushes me, makes me laugh, infuriates me and often has more confidence in me than I do in myself." - Corey Forrest 

 

When you close your eyes and think about your favorite time on the water, what do you see? 

Weirdly, my favorite time on the water is probably when I've been the most scared: falling overboard or a squall with hurricane force winds, bolts of lightning. Being enveloped and feeling absolutely helpless and insignificant in all her strength and beauty is really humbling and puts things into perspective.  

What does being a Salty Girl mean to you?  

Feeling the pull of the sea and never being able to stay away, like being homesick.

 
 

Favorite sea quote?  

It's very hard to choose but : "Fish," he said softly, aloud, "I'll stay with you until I am dead." Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea.

Is there a Salty Girl in your life? Email us to share her story with us and nominate her as a monthly Salty Girl!