Fishing in Alaska

duxbait

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Figured I'd post this here and not the fishing section, because its not too serious a question. Not looking to move to Alaska right now.

Anyways,
Hows the commercial fishing scene in Alaska for a new guy? Are most of the permits limited entry and cost a ton of money, or are there smaller fisheries with open access? Talking about a small operation (boat around 30'), fishing anything from longline, to crabbing, to inshore things like clamming.

Just something that was on my mind as we wait for spring….
 

5akman

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I live in CA and comm fish out of Kenai AK (Cook Inlet). With the corrupt politics supported by the guide lobby, I wish I'd never bought into the CI fishery 10 yrs ago. I'm actually thinking about selling out in CI and buying a South East drift permit. I'd recommend actually going and working in a particular fishery before spending your bucks.

Look at the following sites for permit/boat etc for sale:

Alaskaboat.com
permitmaster.com
gsiboat.com
dockstreetbrokers.com
Crboatspermits.com

Also, lots of info via the State of Alaska Entry commission and Comm Fish department.

Lance Alldrin
Alldrin & Sons Alaska Salmon
530-864-4846
alldrinsalmon.com
facebook.com/alldrinsalmon
facebook.com/fvnighthawk
 

steveinak

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I'd say any fishery you can make money at is limited entry and yes most of the permits are big bucks. I've been looking and looking for something i can do with the H&H and make a profit at and honestly i can't find anything and anything that might just work out to make a few bucks at, like codfish jigging goes on in the winter and far away from where i live.
any fishery that you can make a living at(maybe) is going to cost ya 125-150K to get into. Permits in the fishery i left 3 years ago are going for 250K right now and i know of only one for sale.
 

restless

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OK. What you need to do here is exactly the thing that no commercial fisherman who wants to continue fishing should ever do. That is create a legitimate business model. Just to scratch the surface lets do a quick analysis . Permit 250k, boat and gear an additional 100 to 150k. Overhead, huge. Variables?, limitless. Season?, short. Restrictions?, countless. guarantees? none. Without digging too deep it is clearly a broken business model. I truly believe that the people in most small scale operations are in against our better judgement. Large scale is a different story. You could probably invest half as much in a potato chip route and make a lot more money. But then you wouldn't be fishing, would you?
 

duxbait

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You could probably invest half as much in a potato chip route and make a lot more money. But then you wouldn't be fishing, would you?

Ha very true. Thanks for the responses guys. Was mostly curious, wanted to know if things were any different in Alaska then here in the NE.
 

5akman

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I set netted (gill nets just off shore) for 8 yrs. In that time period, I had a 2, 5, 7 and 10 day season due to low king salmon returns to the Kenai river (sockeye is our money fish but the guides want to go after the .5% of our total catch that are kings so their 200.00/4hr king fishing trip clients can catch a big one!!). The only way that I saved my butt was bringing fish home (CA) to sell locally. I typically bring home 5000-6000lbs and get 11.00 a pound. Yes, my fishing season is extended due to having to work Saturdays at the farmers market, but if it keeps me fishing, then I'm all in! You might look into jigging for cod in lower Cook Inlet, I don't believe there is any buy in other than boat/gear, no permit needed for now.
 
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steveinak

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I set netted (gill nets just off shore) for 8 yrs. In that time period, I had a 2, 5, 7 and 10 season due to low king salmon returns to the Kenai river (sockeye is our money fish but the guides want to go after the .5% of our total catch that are kings so their 200.00/4hr king fishing trip clients can catch a big one!!). The only way that I saved my butt was bringing fish home (CA) to sell locally. I typically bring home 5000-6000lbs and get 11.00 a pound. Yes, my fishing season is extended due to having to work Saturdays at the farmers market, but if it keeps me fishing, then I'm all in! You might look into jigging for cod in lower Cook Inlet, I don't believe there is any buy in other than boat/gear, no permit needed for now.

Whats a 2,5,7,10 season ?? poundage ??
I'd say the best gillnet fishery going right now is the fishery i sold out of in Copper River/PWS. Those guys have been having some big seasons lately, good runs and except for the dip netters on the copper they are pretty much left alone by the rec fishermen.
If you buy into into SE gillnetting hope you like to do a lot of running around its a big area to cover.
Like i've told you before set up your boat as a mini tender go out in PWS pay 20-25 cents @lb more than anyone and you'll get all the fish you can sell !! I bet if you figured out what they cost you to catch yourself it wouldn't be that big a difference buying fish from other boats. Instead of one boat(yours) trying to catch enough fish for your market you'd have 300-500 boats catching fish for you, pick and choose the guys you want to deal with. You won't find a better looking red than those copper river and pws reds. The early chums are dime bright beautiful fish that i bet would sell well, they start catching them early june in the sound.
 

winterking

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Powderpro

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I think the SE salmon fishery lasts for about 3 months, at least the guys I know fish it that long. Steve, how long is the PWS fishery, isn't it about 3 months as well?

I've considered getting halibut quota, but the quota in area 3A has been constantly going down for the last 6 or so years, so I'm glad I didn't buy in. Some area 2C halibut quota has been selling for $46/pound. They must figure the quota will continue rising there, because it makes no business sense to pay that much money for quota. I am still considering getting 3A quota, but at $35/pound, I'm not interested.
 
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levidossak

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It's a great summer job. But it's nice having other steady income. It's not like it used to be.
 

steveinak

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I think the SE salmon fishery lasts for about 3 months, at least the guys I know fish it that long. Steve, how long is the PWS fishery, isn't it about 3 months as well?

I've considered getting halibut quota, but the quota in area 3A has been constantly going down for the last 6 or so years, so I'm glad I didn't buy in. Some area 2A halibut quota has been selling for $46/pound. They must figure the quota will continue rising there, because it makes no business sense to pay that much money for quota. I am still considering getting 3A quota, but at $35/pound, I'm not interested.

PWS fishery goes mid may till early september if you fish silvers to the end. Best scratch fishery in the state, small boat and no crew. I thought about halibut also but no thanks at the prices they are asking, i thought it was to expensive at 8 bucks :rolleyes:.
 

winterking

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Powderpro

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As far as Cook Inlet goes, it has treated me very well since I got back into fishing there in 2011. The price we got in '11 & '12 was about $1.50/pound, in '13 we got $2.25/pound. That's a serious increase in price, and I can only hope and pray it stays above $2/pound to the fisherman into the future. If the price can stay good for salmon, then I think the major salmon fisheries in Alaska are good investments. I don't like the fighting and political wrangling that goes on in Cook Inlet, but everything else about the fishery I love. It's better than a dream job. And if we get good runs with a strong price, it's a place a guy can make some money. I have never expected to be able to fish for 5-6 weeks a year and be able to live entirely off that income. My dad and all his friends had other jobs as well as fishing salmon. Diversification is a necessity even with the big crab boats; a lot of them salmon tender, or cod fish, or do other things necessary to make it work out financially.
 

5akman

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I think the SE salmon fishery lasts for about 3 months, at least the guys I know fish it that long. Steve, how long is the PWS fishery, isn't it about 3 months as well?

I've considered getting halibut quota, but the quota in area 3A has been constantly going down for the last 6 or so years, so I'm glad I didn't buy in. Some area 2C halibut quota has been selling for $46/pound. They must figure the quota will continue rising there, because it makes no business sense to pay that much money for quota. I am still considering getting 3A quota, but at $35/pound, I'm not interested.

I was talking to a fisherman in SE a few weeks ago who has a DE boat. He said the SE has fairly separate, distinct runs of fish. He mentioned that guys with the $$$$ are buying the 58' limit seiners, putting a net reel on with 4 guys picking and catching 300,000-400,000lbs of dogs. They got .85 a pound on those in 2012 and can't remember what he said they got last year but just remember he said it was a bit less than that. That run is last week of June through the end of July. I could handle that! :)
 

Powderpro

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Cut him in half meaning he only gets to catch half of his quota share?

The 3A quota has gone down every year for 6-8 years now, so winterking's friend probably bought in around '04-'07 and the quota he originally purchased has been cut every year to where he only has half the quota he originally bought. That's the roll of the dice you take with any fishery, some years are good, some years not so good.
 

steveinak

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I was talking to a fisherman in SE a few weeks ago who has a DE boat. He said the SE has fairly separate, distinct runs of fish. He mentioned that guys with the $$$$ are buying the 58' limit seiners, putting a net reel on with 4 guys picking and catching 300,000-400,000lbs of dogs. They got .85 a pound on those in 2012 and can't remember what he said they got last year but just remember he said it was a bit less than that. That run is last week of June through the end of July. I could handle that! :)

Those are terminal fisheries for those dogs, like right in front of the hatchery, i'd bet those fish are ugly, toothy and black. How is a 58' seiner going to out maneuver a bowpicker or even a sternpicker for a good set ?? I do know they were making good money on stripping the roe out of those fish, those black dogs ain't worth much except for the roe. You'd have to experience some of that hatchery hog fishing to really know what i'm talking about, it ain't fun when they all start setting gear, running over each others corklines(all jet rigs), nets marrying together with fish gilled in both nets. Ain't no seiner going to be in there. I tried it a few times with my rig, never got in the thick of it, and never really did any good in one of those clusters.
Best theick i saw was a jet bowpicker backing up setting the gear, he had a guy cut him off across his stern so he just spun around and ran over the guys net setting his net still over his bow and down & under his own boat !

not me but a buddys set of dogs outside and away from the hatchery, he filled his boat 3 times out of this set. He is one of the hatchery hog kings he's always in the middle of it !! He'll anchor on his set for days before the opening trying to hold it but when it comes time to set there's boats every 20 feet on each side of him. Yeah fun fishing.
karls big set.jpg

I'd always get away from the crowd and go find a school to round haul on the beach somewhere, i'm not going to say what kind of poundage i put in most years but i didn't need a seiner and 4 guys to put in close to that poundage. I've got the carpnal tunnel and tendonitis to prove it !
DEC deckloaded.jpg

one of my group members 7000lb set of reds taken out of a rockpile, he called me over and i grabbed 3000lbs out side of him.
P7120010.jpg

P7120013.jpg

karls big set.jpg

DEC deckloaded.jpg

P7120010.jpg

P7120013.jpg
 
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steveinak

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The 3A quota has gone down every year for 6-8 years now, so winterking's friend probably bought in around '04-'07 and the quota he originally purchased has been cut every year to where he only has half the quota he originally bought. That's the roll of the dice you take with any fishery, some years are good, some years not so good.

It's not the roll of the dice its the idiots sitting behind decks wanting to take/give away quota from the longliners who earned every pound of it back in the derby days and reallocating it to the SE charter fleet who just kept adding boats and going way over there quota every year.
 

commtuna

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Theres money to be made if you make a big investment. Southeast herring (sitka) is big bucks but a permit will cost you $350K-$1 Million. Here in Kodiak, the groundfish boats are very profitable but again, permits and a boat capable of fishing year round are expensive.

To be successful here you need to diversify your operation and be able to participate in different fisheries all year long. The most successful boats here longline cod in spring, halibut in summer then crab in the fall and winter.
 
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