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Thread: How to get a job in commercial fishing?

  1. #1

    Default How to get a job in commercial fishing?

    How does one go about getting a job within a commercial fishing company. I will be getting out of the Army in two years and will be looking for employment. I know there is usually a long line and I want to start looking into the possibility of employment. Any information would be very helpful. Thanks
    Last edited by Daveinthebush; 09-21-2010 at 12:30.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2007


    There are lots of types of fishing jobs out there, from salmon to pollock to cod to flatfish to halibut; there's trawling, longlining, pot-fishing, tendering, and even processing (bottom of the ladder job). I think the easiest job on the Bering Sea is a pollock fishing boat crew position, at least in terms of hours worked for pay received, minimal risk of injury, and abundance of the resource. Boats under 125 feet have small crews, though, and openings are hard to find. One way I've seen some guys get those jobs is to take a job on a longliner fishing for cod. There's enough turnover on those boats that you can usually find a spot pretty readily. If you work on the roller deck, pay attention, work hard, and get the crew and skipper's respect, you can move up quickly. Crew shares go up as you develop more skills. At the same time, when you're in port for offloads you can get to know other crew from pollock boats or other cod boats, let them know you want to get into trawling, stay in touch and hope they think of you when a spot opens up.
    Alternatively, you could do what some guys I've known have done: Fly to Dutch Harbor or Kodiak and ask around. If you want to work, there's always someone looking for a guy with a strong back and a willingness to put in long hours. The first job you get might not be the one you want, but you'll be there when the boats are in port and you can meet a lot of the crew and skippers, especially if you like to drink a few beers every now and then.
    Most of the jobs other than the pollock/cod trawling ones are not a lot of fun, but most of the crew are hard-working guys you'll respect. If you've been in the military you'll recognize some of the same brotherly feeling. And if you decide to do it, try to learn from the smart guys who save their money and get out before the years at sea beat them up too much (or, the really smart ones who work toward being a mate or skipper).
    Good luck. It's not for everyone, but for those who do it there's not much that has the same kind of grip that being out there can have on you.

  3. #3
    Member kodiakrain's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Kodiak, Ak


    This response above is Very Well Put, all I would add is be willing to work for free, as in, don't come up asking what percentage you'll make when at first you are really a liability to the capt and crew until you are trained and broken in a bit. If you get a chance to do some gear work and boat work before the season, you won't be paid for that but it is the best chance to show you know how to work, can think on your own, and have endurance. Go for it, eagerly. It'll pay you back really well in the long run.

    Then also I would correct your idea that there is a long line of guys waiting, there is "Never A Line Ahead of You," when you walk up and present yourself to the capt or crew at the dock while they are working. Nearly everybody, including relatives and friends of the crew, start at the same level right there. That's where you make it happen. They'll look you over, gauge your desire/hunger to work, and begin making a decision on you that minute. Be Hungry, and whatever you do don't complain about your last job, boat situation, the military, anything...... Complainers are poison on a boat and they'll begin writing you off immediately if you do.

    I've been running serious fishing boats since '89 and either hired or rolled my eyes at a lot of men and women coming down looking. Worst mistake I made when starting out as a crewman was thinking you had to be connected somehow. Missed a few years not trying but staying in the processing industry because of that. So, Don't worry about experience fishing, maybe learn some knots and stuff, get some good gear ahead of time (ask around on what to buy for Raingear, knives, gloves etc.) but it is learn as you go so, just go Determined and Serious. Walk the docks early in the morning, get to meet people in a big fleet town, Kodiak is a good one, and Keep At It. It's a Great way to make a living, the best office view imaginable.
    Ten Hours in that little raft off the AK peninsula, blowin' NW 60, in November.... "the Power of Life and Death is in the Tongue," and Yes, God is Good !

  4. #4


    Hey thanks guys,really helps alot.

  5. #5
    Member fullbush's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010


    Bibico that is great info! Kodiakrain, once again a spot-on post! couldn't have said it better myself. Speaking for myself and my crew, I feel a sense of pride when a perspective crew member inquires about a slot in my operation.
    My advice is to spend your idle time learning various knots and how to sew web. Refrigeration is huge these days, if you got proficient in boat reefer systems, you would be gold. You could pick your boat.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2007


    I think the biggest mistake I made when I started fishing was I talked. If you don't have much experience keep your opinion to yourself. I put my foot in my mouth more than once, but was lucky to have a skipper that ignored it. I still feel a tinge of embarrassment when i think back on a couple of my comments. I'm sure this applies to any job but especially on the boats I worked, learn your job well and stay busy. My first skipper always talked about previous deckhands that didn't show "initiative" you gotta learn what needs to be done, then just get it done.
    I'd agree with you, but then we'd both be wrong.


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