Seasonal Alaska fishing jobs

I heard a story (friend of a friend) who made 90k in two and a half months in Alaska working as a deckhand. Trident Seafoods offers 180 a day for a starting position which is not nearly as much, obviously. How common are these positions if they actually exist, and how do you get into one? How rare are sustainable seasonal jobs really?

unfortunately there’s not a simple answer to this question. there are a lot of different fisheries in alaska and almost all of them are seasonal. The majority of commercial fishing vessels pay their crew a “share” which is a pre determined percentage of the catch which can vary depending on the price of fish and how much you land. For larger factory vessels I assume it’s a bit different and you get some sort of day rate like you mentioned but I don’t have any experience with that. Also the size of the share you agree to at the beginning of the season will be based on your experience level in a given fishery so as a greenhorn you won’t make nearly as much as the deckhands with more experience.

1 Like

90k in 75 days is likely a fish-tale made bigger through the grapevine, to mix a metaphor. However, it is possible, on a private boat with a damn good, or lucky, skipper. You won’t make anything like it on a catcher/processor or with a big company like Trident, not as a greenhorn, at least. Bosun, maybe, but not as a FNG. Even on the luckiest salmon seiner, your crew-share is likely to only be 5-8 percent of gross catch. However, to make half your stated figure over the summer is well within the realm of possibility. But you will work for it…

To get a job fishing, you can pound the internets, or pound the docks in Kodiak or another major fishing port (Naknek, Homer, Sitka, etc.). If you’re persistent, and are fit to set one foot in front of the other, chances are some chain-smoking, sweaty screamer with a third-grade education will just have fired his deckhand for sleeping with their mutual sister, and so will be in the market for a new deckhand.

As for sustainability… Hahahahahahaha! Ahhhh, hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha! Haaaaaah… if by sustainable you mean that the odds are good that you can fish for the rest of your life without a care, then fishing ain’t it. If by sustainability you’re asking if the fishing industry follows a set of best practices to ensure both the longevity of the industry and the preservation of ecosystems, well, the answer is a resounding NO to that, too. Fishing as a job is not sustainable almost directly as a result of fishing as an industry using unsustainable practices.

Best of luck.


Thank you, and I meant sustainable as a job.

it’s sustainable but to get a site on a reputable boat you’ll likely participate in multiple fisheries during the year

Did I fire you? We’re supposed to provide butthurt salve when we do that. An oversight. It’ll be corrected.

At least until the last fish of that species lies dead on the deck.