National Fisherman’s Fisherman of the Year competition has become one of the longest running traditions of Pacific Marine Expo.

Last year's finalists race to put on their survival suits. Doug Stewart photo.Three days of walking the show floor and exploring the latest gear and boat equipment can get a little too cozy for some. Being used to being on alert and moving on the water, you wouldn’t want to let a few days off leave your at-sea skills rusty. Fishermen have to be prepared to work under any circumstances, from a stormy bay to the show floor of PME.

That’s why the Fisherman of the Year contest pits attendees against each other in the ultimate battle. The contest puts three skills to the test: the ability to put a rim-racked net back together, accurately tie a set of strong knots (to simulate a moonless night on the high seas, contestants are blindfolded) and put on a survival suit in record time.

Anyone can enter the competition, but only three fishermen can make it to the final round to demonstrate a skill that could save their lives one day. Experts say fishermen need to be able to get into an immersion suit in a minute; some contestants have halved that time in previous years.

The winners of the net-mending, rope splicing and survival suit competition each earn $100, although it is possible for one skilled fisherman to haul in all the prize money.

The Fisherman of the Year Competition is set to start Saturday at 12 p.m. on the Main Stage. If you don’t have what it takes to compete, come to cheer on your favorite crewman.

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Samuel Hill is the former associate editor for National Fisherman. He is a graduate of the University of Southern Maine where he got his start in journalism at the campus’ newspaper, the Free Press. He has also written for the Bangor Daily News, the Outline, Motherboard and other publications about technology and culture.

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