While new commercial fishing vessels often carry a seven- to eight-figure price tag — with major overhauls in shipyards coming in at a cool six-figure sum — small boats are often overlooked. Yet, it’s the small boats that are the lifeblood of many fishing ports across the country.
The F/V Mycelium is a hard-working 18-foot Boston Whaler that’s “sun bleached and bare bones,” according to owner Brendan Pini, 29, who fishes out of Santa Cruz, Calif.
The barriers to entry in many commercial fisheries are steep, but Pini, who grew up sport fishing in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California, found a seam into the business with an affordable boat, a desire to work and a knack for finding fish.
Pini has a California salmon troll permit and fishes open access halibut, sand dabs, lingcod and white sea bass with hook and line on the F/V Mycelium.
“Nothing was handed to me,” Pini says. “I found a boat I could afford and worked it as hard as I could.”
Having a small boat often works to Pini’s advantage fishing out of Santa Cruz. The harbor is small and shallow, so when winter storms bring in silt, larger boats are forced to stay tied up until the sea calms and dredging can take place. The light boat with minimal drag and a lot of torque keeps him fishing when most others can’t.
Pini is in the market for a larger troller to make longer salmon trips with and to give him options for Monterey Bay fisheries. But even so, it’ll be hard for him to lose the attachment he has for his humble Boston Whaler.
“If it wasn’t for that boat, I probably wouldn’t be a commercial fisherman,” he says.
The name of his boat, Mycelium, is in reference to Pini’s other business — foraging mushrooms. He owns the company Fished and Foraged, so when fishing is slow in winter months, Pini scours forests throughout California for chanterelles and other wild mushrooms to sell to local chefs when his catch is out of season.
Home port: Santa Cruz, Calif.
Owner: Brendan Pini
Builder: Boston Whaler
Year built: 1978
Fisheries: Salmon, open access halibut, sand dabs, lingcod and white sea bass
Hull material: Fiberglass
Beam: 7 feet
Draft: 2 feet
Crew capacity: 1
Main propulsion: Evinrude E-TEC 90-hp outboard
Speed: 30 knots
Fuel capacity: 40 gallons
Freshwater capacity: N/A
Hold capacity: 700 pounds
Electronics: Garmin Ecomap 94