Fishing boat questions

You just described 99% of east coast commercial fishing, what little still exists at least.

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Northeast commercial fishing has become a sewer of drugs and drug addicts. There are not many “normal” “real fishermen” left.

A drug addict is a drug addict. That’s who he is. He lives for drugs.

A fisherman is a fisherman. That’s who he is. He lives for fishing.

A drug addict “fisherman” is not a fisherman. He’s just a drug addict that happens to be going fishing at the moment for drug money.

An honorable profession and lifestyle is almost gone.

Alaska fishing certainly has its share of drug problems, but it’s much cleaner than the Northeast.


I fished five Bristol bay seasons from 2008-2019. It is a blast and a great way as a younger person to make decent $$. They’ve had some monster years up there recently, so much so that it brought the price/lb down due to saturation. My first year, the price was about .30/lb, went all the way up to 1.60/lb and is back down to I think around .5/lb. Here are some questions to ask…

Crew size - obviously how the pie gets split up.

Percentage catch - for new guys, I remember it being about 8% of total catch, which was fair I thought given what little I knew. But you’ll typically get 8-12%

Travel - I didn’t have travel paid for me for a few seasons and it wasn’t a deal breaker. You can get affordable flights to Seattle/Anchorage and then Penair to King Salmon for not a lot. Not inappropriate to ask about it but I found that most new guys didn’t have travel paid. Heard a lot of stories of captains forking over travel only to have their deckhand quit for different crew/cannery jobs…

Double permit - wasn’t so much a thing when I started, but the last year or two the boats with two permits really killed it. If the captain/boat has one they’re serious and you’ll make $$.

Equipment - not a deal breaker but most people worth fishing for have spent the money to make money. Ask about boat, gear on board etc. a lot of boats have onboard refrigeration and will semi process their own fish for a higher price/lb. Depending on what they have, something to consider…

Grub - ask how you’ll get fed.

Processor - which company do they fish for. Some canneries have amazing facilities with great grub, bunks etc for the down time. Some places not so much. Having to live on a 32’ boat for 2 months straight sucks. It’s nice to have a bunkhouse to go to every once in a while.

Fishing license - you’ll need one of those, usually captain will pay for it.

Winter check - usually the bigger canneries will pay you at the end of the season and then again sometime during the new year with an adjusted price. The crew is entitled to that so check to see if the captain will usually pay that.

That is a good place to start. I’d also ask where they like to fish primarily. Some captains choose to stay in one river the entire time while others will hop around, but you want to work with someone who thinks about this stuff and has a plan. Again, great fishery. They are expecting a down year this year but don’t let it be a deterrent. Feel free to reach out with more ??s


Thanks all! This is GREAT info about a place I have never been near.
Sad about the druggies on the East Coast :frowning:
I just watched The Finestkind and they only had one junkie on their boat, so I guess they were better off than many, even though he did really make quite the mess.