Skylar Campbell, F/V Sable
Skylar Campbell is a commercial fisherman by day and drummer by night. “I’m sure I’m living somebody’s dream,” he said. “I admit, sometimes I fantasize about a steady income, but really, I know I’m blessed to live like this.”
A native of Pacific Grove, Skylar fished for fun as a child, but for the past seven years has been working as a deckhand out of ports and down the California Coast. Four years ago he got his own boat and salmon permit. Along with crewing and skippering for salmon, he fishes open access hook and line for species like ling cod and halibut. But salmon has had lean years and open access is a spotty way to make a living, so he still keeps crewing for a spot prawn boat out of Monterey.
While spot prawns permits in California are rare and very expensive, (he told us that one sold last year for 1.3 million), he’s hoping to eventually acquire a crab permit for small boats, and a deep nearshore fishing permit to catch rockfish. This type of fishing throughout the year is known as “Portfolio” fishing, and has long sustained California small boat fishermen. If salmon has a weak year, they can fall back on rockfish in the off season. Or if crab shuts down, there’s salmon. So while it might not be 9-5 with benefits, it gives some stability to this way of earning a living.
He’s also hoping to one day be able to sell his catch straight from his boat in the Monterey harbor one day. As he explained, “This was a big rockfish port. Stocks are coming back. A lot of people want them. I think to myself, what’s good this town’s portfolio of seafood. Local rockfish right off the docks would be great.”