Gillnetter heeds siren call of the river – Fishing, family, community. That’s Crouse’s melody.
Crouse didn’t come from a fishing family but he grew up in a neighborhood of fishermen in Skamokawa. “For as long as I can remember I wanted to fish the river,” Crouse said. “In kindergarten they had us make plates out of clay and I drew a gillnet boat on mine.” When he was 14, he asked his basketball coach, Bill Olsen if he could work for him on the river. At 15, he went to Alaska to fish during the summer. “Paul Dretsch worked in a cannery up there and he told me to work there until I found a job on a boat,” Crouse said. “There is a radio station in the Bristol Bay area, and every three hours job listings came up. After my second shift in the cannery, I called someone who was advertising for boat board fish picker. That was my first job up there.” It was everything he wanted and it was more difficult than he had imagined. In his mid-40s now, Crouse works at Wauna four days a week and waits to hear when he can get back out on the river. He rebuilds boats and buys outfits from retiring fishermen when he can. He’ll take what he needs and part and parcel out the rest to sell. His wife, Erla, drives a school bus and works at her coffee shop in Cathlamet, Waterway Espresso. Read the story here 09:16