Born in the Steveston Japanese Hospital, the middle child of nine, 75-year-old Moe Yesaki was born into a fishing legacy.
Yesaki can trace back his familys fishing roots 115 years.
His grandfather immigrated to Steveston in 1896 from Wakayama, Japan.
My grandfather caught sockeye and chum salmon, said Yesaki. Then, when my own father fished with the Mosquito Fishing Fleet, he caught a lot of chum, which was mostly exported to Japan there was a big market for chums in Japan.
In 1950, Yesaki began fishing the same time as his best friend Harold Steves. It was the same year his father purchased an acre of land in Steveston to build the family home on.
From the winter of 1950 to the spring of 1951, my father built our house, Yesalki said. During that time we lived in a two-storey complex at the Pacific Coast Cannery houses.
At the time, the waterfront of Steveston was known for many years as Cannery Row. At the height of operation there were as many as 15 canneries along the shoreline.
He was 14-years-old.
I used to get my cousin and my friend to go out fishing with me, he said.
He smiled as he recalled how a fisheries officer caught them fishing underage.
He hauled us in through the dock because we were also too young to fish, you were supposed to be 15, Yesaki said. But, he really was more worried with our safety than anything else.
However, the following year, Yesaki and his buddies got caught again. This time their infraction was because they didnt have a proper fishing license.
At the time, Yesaki lived with his large family at Steveston Highway and no. 2 Road.
In 1951, his mother started growing large crops of strawberries. During those years, Yesaki and his siblings were in charge of picking the juicy berries.
Mom didnt pay us though, he quipped.
But to his surprise, his mother bought him an outboard, three horsepower boat for $300 to rewarding him for his hard labour picking her fruit.
It was the summer of 1952.
Mom knew how much I loved to fish, Yesaki said. A few of my friends were still in skiffs (using oars).
Although, I had a new boat, I didnt do very well that year.
His fortunes changed over the years his catches in the hundreds nearly every time out.
He distinctly remembers the Monday morning 8 a.m. bell. That would signify the boats could go out on the water.
We would head out Monday morning and fish until 8 a.m. Saturday morning.
Yesaki sold his catch to the Great West Cannery, through a fish packer called Mr. Teraqachi.
When he came to collect the fish, he would also bring us our lunches, he recalled. He would weigh our fish, mark them in our books and we would get paid once a week.
Yesaki remembers getting paid roughly a little over $100.
He fondly added that in his day, the guys braved the elements, sleeping in their boats for up to five days a week without any shelter whatsoever.
We just slept in our sleeping bags and a blanket, he said.
Like Steves, Yesaki regaled the News with his tale of misfortune out on the waters.
One time, four of us tied our boats to the jetty, which was illegal you were supposed to drift and catch your fish, he said. We had to go to court and pay a $35 fine.
In 1953, nylon nets came in, making it a lot easier to pull in your catch because the nylon nets didnt draw any water in, like its predecessors did, Yesaki explained.
He loved fishing and continued until 1956. Then, in 1957, the federal Fisheries Research Board hired Yesaki.
I worked in Campbell River in the summers, he said. I was going to the University of B.C. studying general sciences.
He went on to study at the Fisheries Institute (which is now the UBC Fisheries Centre), going for his Masters in biology.
I never finished my thesis because I was offered a permanent job as a fisheries biologist in Alaska, said Yesaki, adding he stayed on in Alaska from 1964 to 1967.
Although, Yesaki retired almost 20 years ago, his younger brother Shiro, 73, still fishes off the waters in Steveston.
He lives in our original family home, he added. We had some good times back then and fishing was plentiful.