More than 100 years ago Sam Jerisich, searching for fertile fishing grounds, became one of the first three white men to settle in Gig Harbor. Sam, a native of Kotor, Montenegro, settled in Gig Harbor with his wife Anna, an Indian from British Columbia, in 1867. They made his fishing nets by hand. Sam built a smokehouse to smoke the fish and a rendering plant to render dogfish oil. It was the beginning of Gig Harbor's commercial fishing industry.
Many others who came to Gig Harbor took up fishing when they saw that a good livelihood could be made. The majority of these men were from Croatia. Others came from Norway and Italy. The fishing industry they founded became the center of the community's economy for more than 100 years. Some of their descendents continue to fish out of Gig Harbor. For fishing families, fishing is not just a livelihood, but a way of life.
This exhibit introduces the technology of the purse seiner and some of Gig Harbor's fishing families. The history of Gig Harbor's fishermen, and that of the entire west coast fishing fleet, has been meticulously researched and written about by Gig Harbor's Lee Makovich. The bulk of the information about commercial fishing and the fishermen in this exhibit comes from Lee's articles in "Fishermen's News."
Click the links at right to learn more about Gig Harbor's fishing history.