We talked with Peter McCarthy, a seasoned Irishman and captain of the F/V Stella, a 58′ long x 24′ wide x 12′ deep trawler with a 600 hp engine that fishes in the Gulf of Alaska. His smile is mischievous, but it belies the no-nonsense efficiency with which he directs his crew in his thick rolling accent.
How long have you been fishing?
Since I was 18… oh, 20 years I guess?
What got you started in the industry?
Oh, I followed my brother into it.
Did you fish in Ireland?
Yeah, for one year. I made 5000 Irish pounds at the time, and I think I drank 4999 of them!
What’d you fish for?
Whitefish, ground fish, cod, Pollock… I was on a trawler, a high seas boat
What would your best day at sea be like?
Sun shining in the window, no wind. Fishermen curse the wind!
What’s your favorite food at sea?
Fresh rock sole… or whatever we can’t sell! But rock sole is the best.
What’s your biggest challenge facing you today as an Alaskan fisherman?
Do you have any scary stories?
No, not really, it’s been pretty normal… well, one time I brought a 112 footer over across the Gulf and I had a couple of waves roll over the wheelhouse. That was scary for me.
Which boat was that?
The Michelle Rene. Yeah, it was like a battleship, a big ship. But a wave rolled over, and I dropped down because I thought for sure it was coming through the window!
Do you see an opportunity for your kids to follow in your
footsteps and get into the industry?
Yes, I think they could. It just takes hard work, you have to work for it. I came here with nothing… and I still don’t have the white picket fence, but I’ve done well. It’s definitely harder now, but it’s still the American Dream if you work at it.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever brought up on board?
Well, about 3 years ago I brought up a Mola Mola, a sunfish, while fishing for rockfish off Portlock Banks. It was as big as a sofa! I knew the moment I saw it alongside the boat that something strange was coming up.