David Toriumi, F/V Pioneer and F/V Grinder


Toriumi checks his gear as he sets up to troll for salmon. Photo credit: David Hills 2018 (Fishy Pictures).

There are few people who are as excited to get up in the morning and go to work as David Toriumi, 36, a Watsonville native who fishes out of Santa Cruz. Toriumi made his passion a profession and still hasn’t lost his youthful enthusiasm for the sea in doing so.

“Being out there is so much fun,” Toriumi says. “Driving away from land, hearing the traffic fade in the distance and being your own boss—it’s such a wild experience.”

Toriumi is an auto mechanic by trade and started his career working at his father’s car shop, Toriumi Auto Repair, in Watsonville.

At the suggestion of friends who knew his love of fishing, he went up to Alaska’s Bristol Bay in the early summer of 2007 to fish for sockeye salmon. He liked the experience so much he returned the following six summers.

“I was tired of working on cars at my dad’s shop,” he says. “Fishing isn’t like a land job: the more you put in it, the more you get out of it.”

So Toriumi made fishing his year-round profession and went all in on Monterey Bay fisheries, purchasing the 22-foot F/V Pioneer in 2014 to fish for king salmon, halibut, seabass, lingcod and sand dabs.

Now he’s making another investment in local fisheries, buying the 33-foot F/V Grinder and a 250-pot Dungeness crab permit. But, commercial fishing is more than fun and freedom of the ocean. Part of what drives Toriumi is connecting local people to local seafood.

“I want people to know ‘the fish of the day’ was a fish just kicking yesterday,” Toriumi says.

Toriumi is working with the Monterey Bay Fisheries Trust and other stakeholders to make local seafood more accessible by creating fish markets on local docks.