As if the commercial fishing life isn’t romantic enough, consider the collaboration of Max Mezich and Jenni Baker, two 22-year-olds, who fell in love then took their piscine passions to the back deck of the Jennifer Lynn, a 42-foot salmon gillnetter hailing out of Port Moller, Alaska.

Mezich worked on the boat with his dad, Walt, for six years previous, learned the skills of fishing in 20-foot seas along the sandy beaches of the Bering Sea and took over the operation this year. Baker began her fishing career at a Bristol Bay setnet site in 2013, fished every season since and has also started her own net-hanging business.
Mezich and Baker met at a coffee shop via connections to a mutual friend.

“I asked him out,” confides Baker. “And I’d never met him.”

Nine hours later they found themselves bonded in the freedom that the fishing lifestyle offers.

“It’s raw,” says Baker of fishing the Bering Sea. “It’s so real. You have different options in life, and you can look for those that are unique to you — or you can sit in a box.”

Before teaming up with his dad, Mezich had worked as a mechanic for a few years but found the profession more structured than he preferred.

“It was the same thing every day,” he says of twisting wrenches. “With fishing I like the freedom to do what you do in a day.”

The melding of Mezich and Baker made for a formidable team in the Area M drift fishery.

“I never thought I’d find someone who would even come out and try this,” says Mezich of inviting Baker to join him for a summer at sea. “But she just slayed it.”

Though fishermen are known to obfuscate poundage and prices, Baker confided the couple had put in a good first season together.

“We made enough to pay for our wedding,” she says. “We’ve set the date for May 5th.”

Immediately after a pig roast and plenty of barbecued salmon to highlight the wedding reception, the newlyweds plan to head west and prep the boat for their first season as a married couple at sea.

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Charlie Ess is the North Pacific Bureau Chief for National Fisherman.

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