Fishing as a career

Why would anyone in their right mind go there unless they were born into it? I took a stab at it in my wild youth to make a quick buck but I picked a time period when the fish didn’t feel like getting caught and my financial dreams were derailed. Like most of my youth, it wasn’t time well spent.
You never know what to expect. The fish don’t cooperate, wandering back and forth as they please, the boat stinks, it’s hard damn work, the weather kicks your ass and the markets are volatile.
It’s a giant gamble. The odds of getting rich aren’t much better than at a Vegas casino. Sure, you’re risking your money there too but at least the atmosphere is festive the temperature is constant and smiling waitresses ply you with cheap booze to ease the pain of your losing your money.

I think you answered your own question. The commercial fishermen i know like that ‘unknown’ factor. It’s more about the hunt than the kill. They like to gamble, and their mindset is similair to a professional gambler.

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That and there’s plenty of fresh air. The captain on the gillnetter I worked on was fond of telling me that the previous year, a purse seiner captain had called his wife at home within days of an opening. This was back in ancient times when phone calls were patched through by an operator through a VHF channel so everyone could hear.
“Honey, the seiner captain had said, you know that house we looked at that was out of our price range?.. Well go buy it, I just hit the jackpot.”
It wasn’t much of a consolation for me. After months of discomfort and hard work, all I had to show for it was just enough money to buy a motorcycle.

You’re right. Stay out of fishing as a career. It’s super bad. Big time. Stay on your tugs and OSVs and box boats. Yup. Those are better. Very correct and excellent post.

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It’s totally cyclical. Here in southern california, some guys made a killing squid fishing. They barely scratched by for a few years, then had a couple years that were homeruns. I haven’t paid much attention to it the last few years, so the scenario i am referring to was in the last three decades. The guys that are smart with their money are able to survive when the cycle shits the bed again.
Some fisheries are more stable than others too obviously.

Like most things, it depends.

Some fisheries are a sure thing. Many are hit or miss.

Fishing is so regulated now that it’s not as much of a gamble as it use to be, but the big money years are mostly gone.

Fishing is excellent seagoing training.


Valuable training for me. I hired on to a fishing boat bringing navigating experience from aviation with me but navigating up and down and in and out of the the IP was valuable experience. GPS wasn’t a thing yet.

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If you sail black gang the experience you can get on a fishing boat is outstanding, I’ve crabbed, long lined and trawled, and we did almost everything in house, to include rebuilding the engines, no-a-days I sail box boats and they need six contractors to tighten a bolt then the office cries a river over costs.


I have to concur, one of my renters is/was a charter mate, He did very well during the season on the “Seaducer” made a few trips on it before I knew him. Always got my limit with that Captain… Off season was tuff for all those fellows…I chartered “Fishing Frenzy” when the Clarkson brothers ran it as well. Not the dudes you see on TV. “Chris” A former football player at Alabama, (Roll Tide) He now is your most knowledgeable person at “Oceans East” tackle shop on the Outer Banks. Damn nice fellow with a son that plays QB and wrestles his ass off. Hope to help his son get to the next level if he keeps his good grades up and continues his most excellent wrestling prowess. Small world my friends.

Carolina Girl is for sale but I don’t consider the six-pack sport fishing charter guys to be commercial fishermen in the same category as the guys in business to sell big catches to brokers.


Can’t remember the Captain or owner of that rig. She was a a good boat. Tough business. They do commercial fishing in the offseason for big fish. And agree regarding the fish brokers. My other pals
are commercial crabber’s (soft and hard) that used to sell to the ex-engineer from old IOT. Mr M. Bridges at Endurance Seafood and the “Salt Box” . You may perhaps know him and drive by his establishment on the island rather often.

Fishing in AK my entire career. Well managed stocks and a more than decent income


You sound as if you have the self discipline to survive the ups and downs that not everyone is able to manage. My experience was on a Canadian boat near the AK border over 5 decades ago. It was like the wild west on water. I have an acquaintance who is a successful big scallop boat skipper in New England and he’s as wild and crazy as the characters I met fishing in BC.

It is a damn hard way of life, not for the meager. One of the keys is not living beyond your means when the catch is big and have some ducats set aside for when the catch is low or there is no fishing at all.

And a more than a few ducats for the taxman.

Fishing from the beach in Alaska is not for the faint hearted. Scroll down to the video.


I love that video. I look it up and share it again every few years.