Whether he is braving gale force winds and heavy freezing spray in the January federal cod season, or catching and sampling halibut for the International Pacific Halibut Commission survey charter during the long sun-filled days of summer, Seamus Hayden of the 58′ longliner the F/V Clyde and his perennial crew approach each fishing trip and offload with great professionalism. It is always a pleasure to have Seamus and his crew, fondly dubbed “The Clyde Guys,” at the Island Seafoods dock!
What fisheries do you participate in with this boat?
We do the Grey Cod in the winter time and then again in September. We do halibut and black cod in the summer and do a bit of the survey fishing for the international halibut commission.
You do that survey fishing out in the Bering Sea?
Actually we have done some of the Bering Sea in years past, but the last number of years we’ve been in the Shumagin and Chignik area.
What is the purpose of this survey?
It’s a stock assessment survey… basically it’s the… whether the science of halibut stock study to regulate the fishery is working properly.
How long have you been fishing?
That’s a good question… does catching my first tadpole count?
Haha, how long have you been doing it for money?
About 22 years.
What got you started in the industry?
My dad was in the business in the net making side of things, and that probably got me interested to begin with. When he kicked me out of the house, when I was 18, he made sure that I had a job and it was on board a deep sea trawler in the North Atlantic.
What were you fishing for?
We were fishing on the Rockhall Bank for… well, they just called it whitefishing over there, so it would include every bottom species. Typically Atlantic cod, haddock, blackjacks, which are known by a lot of different names… kernerts, black sole, plaice, turbots, brill, megrim… a mix of everything!
What’s the best thing about running a boat and being your own boss?
I’d say the best thing about being your own boss is being able to schedule your own off day.
What’s your best day at sea?
I’d say the best day at sea is when you’re fully loaded coming to shore… but another one that comes close to it is casting off the lines when the weather is nice. Because once you cast the lines off your life simplifies about 10 fold!
Do you have any scary stories, incredible events in your 22 years of fishing?
Well I have a few… one in particular comes to mind. It happened while we were fishing, but while we were ashore at anchor, so it wouldn’t be your typical fishing story because it involves a bear! We were ashore with the survey people for the IPHC one afternoon due to bad weather, and we decided we were in a remote location just east of king cove, and we decided to go for a hike to look for a Dolly Varden stream to do a bit of sport fishing. So after a half an hour of walking we came across a beach, and out about 400 yards, one of the lads looked over, and said “looks like a bear” and I said “And I think it’s a dead sea lion…” well it turns out it was a bear, and after he woke up he decided to charge us full bore!
Haha, how close did he get before you realized it wasn’t a sea lion?
Oh, I’d say we were still 200 yards, which he managed to close very quickly. One of the lads had a firearm so he fired a few warning shots, and he managed to turn him at about 25 yards. But… lets just say things were well puckered up by that point!
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve brought up from below?
The strangest thing I think we’ve brought up was a rare fish called an oar fish. That was years ago in California, it’s a deep water fish that looks like a sea serpent. I thought it was a sea monster myself when I saw it coming up in the net. We were gill netting swordfish at the time… the one we caught was about 10 feet long or so with the tail slipping off, but I’ve read that they can get up to about 30 feet so I imagine they can get to looking a lot like a sea serpent at 30 foot!
What are some of the challenges facing you as an Alaskan fisherman in the Gulf of Alaska today?
The challenge would be to… I guess Gulf Rationalization is going to present a challenge at some point, though it seems to be stalled for the moment. Other challenges are just trying to maintain your crew, and trying to keep your wife happy!
If you could change one thing about the industry, what would it be?
I think if I could change one thing about the industry, I think I would make a few modifications to the IFQ system that might serve as a model for things to come. But I think that IFQs should never have been handed out to individuals in perpetuity. I think it would have been better to divvy them up in order to rationalize the fishery but to set expiration dates on the quota itself at which point it would return back into the system, where young guys could bid on it to gain entry into the fisheries.
What’s your favorite thing to eat at sea?
My favorite thing to eat at sea would be a toss up I’d say between a good leg of lamb roast and possibly a corned beef and cabbage.
And what is your favorite fish to eat?
My favorite fish to eat I would have to say lingcod, would probably be the one I like the most. Rex sole is a very close second, beautiful fish. There’s nothing wrong with a cod n’ chips either!
You have a young son at home. Would you want him to follow in footsteps?
Maybe not the exact steps, but yeah I wouldn’t mind seeing him go into fishing if that’s what he wanted to do.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years, or the industry?
Where I’d like to see myself in 10 years is to be in the position to have someone else run the boat for me at least 50% of the time so that I have more time ashore, basically just have more time with family.
What do you like to do in your free time?
Family time, I guess this could be included in family time, I love to sport fish. I like to hunt. And this is something I haven’t done in a long time, but I’d like to get back into, is I like to build small boats, nice beautiful wood boats. I built a small skiff with my father and brothers a few years ago in Ireland. And when I was doing it, I woke up in the morning… and that was all I wanted to do, go straight to the boat and keep on building!