Canada | Nova Scotia | Digby County

Beau Gillis started fishing with his father out of Freeport in Junior High School, back in the mid-eighties. Whether it was the winter lobster fishery or summer fishing with a bottom hook and line, he says he “got very seasick every time.”

By the end of the high school Beau was ready to get off the island, and so he pursued a BSc at Acadia University followed by a BEd at Dalhousie in 1995. From here he adventured all over the map, from tree planting in Alberta and British Columbia, teaching English as a Second Language in Korea, teaching high school physics and chemistry in South Carolina and Halifax, to travels through South East Asia, India, Turkey and Greece.

Still, fishing was in his blood – his grandfathers, great-uncles, uncles, and brothers have all been fishing captains. After marrying and having a son along the way, Beau returned to Freeport in 2004 to take up fishing once more. The first few seasons he crewed on lobster boats, and in 2008 he bought his own boat and bottom hook and line license.

In the summer, Beau fishes for groundfish alone in a small 36′ boat, inspired by seeing an old video of his grandfather doing so in the 1970s… and because there hasn’t been enough Halibut quota for him to pay a fair wage to a mate. He fishes because he is good at it, he likes the challenge, and because he gets to use both his brain and his back. “I think Joseph Conrad has something to do with it too,” he admits.

Beau is one of the five founding fishermen members of Off the Hook Cooperative Limited (formed in June, 2010, in Digby County, Nova Scotia), who work from different harbors in the area but share a passion for fishing ground fish with a bottom hook and line.

Click here to read more about Off the Hook Community Supported Fishery.

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