I’m headed offshore, running the Anthony G out of San Diego in search of tuna with three more days steaming and four days behind us.
When I got to the new boat, there was the newest copy of National Fisherman magazine in the wheelhouse, as there has been on many great boats worked throughout my career. I did something I haven’t done in a couple years, I opened and read. It brought back many good memories of my youth, and how much NF influenced my early career and how much the publication once meant to me.
I never would have been an Alaskan crabber if not for an article in NF. I was reading in July of 1994, and there was an article on Dutch Harbor. I was with my girlfriend at the time, Melissa Heath, and thought out loud while reading, “Wow, I would love to check out that Bering Sea crab!”
She says, “I know somebody that owns two boats.” I thought she was full of it until I received a call from Capt. Jim Koch of the Mary J the next day asking me if I wanted to be a crabber.
Then in October 1995, before going back to Alaska, there was an ad I noticed in back of NF, “Offshore Lobster Help wanted.” It is something I always wanted to do and gave a call. Phone was answered by a nice lady saying, “Vinalhaven Lobster Company.” I told her why I was calling, and she put me on hold. Then Bob Brown came on the phone, and we hit it off. He said he was on the Atlantic Lobster Coalition with Eddie Fig in the ’60s, and we talked for over an hour. It was great to connect and talk with somebody as passionate about fishing as I was.
He ended the call with, “I have some chick running the boat that only wants to drag and swordfish. I want to get back into lobster and crab. Would you be interested in taking the Hannah Bowden?” I talked with Eddie, and the fact that I was only 21 years old decided it was not the direction I wanted to go in at that time and went back to Alaska crabbing. Those and many other great memories have triggered while reading on the way out this trip (please bring back Cap’n Perc Sane!).
As a longtime reader and supporter of National Fisherman for over 40 years, I would hope you’d understand how mad I was when I saw the letter from the chairman supporting the National Monument. An area that I fished on all levels — dragging, lobstering and longlining was potentially being shut down, and here was a magazine that I and fellow fishermen who work those areas supported pushing the National Monument agenda.
It was a deep shot that stung beyond words. I realize everyone makes mistakes, or misjudges at one point or another, and our world is better with National Fisherman in it. So I am going to give you another shot and put that behind me. If you put yourself in my position, I’d hope you’d understand how shocking that was to us, and maybe use more discretion in the future.