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Go Back   SailNet Community > General Interest > General Discussion (sailing related)
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Old 11-30-2011
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commercial fishing from sailboat?

hey you guys, ive never been involved with sailing or commercial fishing, but i was wondering if there was any way to make some money on a 30 foot sailboat with a commercial fishing license?

how much are licenses in california? and what would be the most economical fish to catch? and how would i go about selling the fish? do i need another license for that? or does a commercial license allow me to sell too?
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Old 11-30-2011
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I don't think many 30' sailboats are going to be very practical for any type of commercial fishing. There are some sailboats rigged for salmon trolling, but they are generally larger (you need some form of refrigerated hold), and I've seen some rigged for tuna. You can check the various permits and prices for western states here:
The Permit Master Commercial Fisher Resource
Generally your commercial permit allows you to sell wholesale, you should check with local regulations in your area. Check out National Fisherman
( National Fisherman - Search our commercial fishing news, marine directory and classifieds ) there are a lot of buyers and sellers listed as well as good articles on commercial fishing in general.
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Old 11-30-2011
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well the goal is to be able to get like maybe 50-60$ a day fishing...and i want to do it living on my sailboat...is this really not possible? the license is arounf 126$ a year i think, the commercial license.
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Old 12-01-2011
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The problem with trying to fish off a 30 ft sailboat is the rigging will constantly be in your way and you have little storage for your gear, especially if using nets. You may be able to use trolling lines by having long line poles that fold down from the mast but going forward to retrieve the catch could be challenging in rough seas. As already mentioned, refrigeration will be an issue. We will sometimes troll for salmon when sailing but that is with a single rod or maybe 2 at most. If you run into trouble having a bunch of gear in the water is only going to make it worse. If you want to commercial fish I dont think a sailboat is practical.
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Old 12-01-2011
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Before the invention of the internal combustion engine cat boats were used to fish. I have an old print of two fishermen trolling hand lines on one. A family friend had one when I was a kid. Wide, shallow draft w/ a huge cockpit. They were the working boat of the day. A nunsuch is similar.
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Old 12-01-2011
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The $126 is just a start and required for anyone on board a commercial vessel, it gets expensive.
Commercial Fishing License Fees and Descriptions - California Department of Fish and Game
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Old 12-01-2011
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Well, the way I see it, you just need to catch one "expensive fish", since there's not enough room for a lot of cheap fish.

Shouldn't be that tough, have a go at it and let us know how it works out.
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Old 12-01-2011
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Many years ago my dad & I had a 36 foot commercial salmon troller out of San Francisco. Lots of rough weather and it being a part time venture we were lucky to break even. Today's commercial salmon seasons are pretty short, when allowed. Bottom fishing with long lines is an alternative but IIRC you would have to catch a whole lot of them to pay expenses. We later sport fished for salmon off of our Coronado 25 but without "flopper stoppers" it was like being in an industrial sized cloths dryer all day. Suggest that before you spend any money on this venture you try to go out on any commercial fishing boat to see what it is all about. You didn't say where you intended to fish. It makes a big difference. Generally, the further north from SF you go the rougher it gets.

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Old 12-01-2011
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You could probably make some spare change pin-hooking. Sell them yourself at the dock instead of getting wholesale prices from a market. I used to do some of this years ago (not on a sailboat) before commercial licenses and regulation became onerous. Lately, trying to catch dinner from my sailboat, even in spots I know have fish, I have little luck. Don't know why but I seem to be able to catch more fish from a powerboat??? Same lures, same speed, same spot....no rod bending down.
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Old 12-01-2011
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If you want to live aboard your 30' sailboat, and use it for profit, have you considered simply going for a USCG Captain's license and operating as a full/half day charter? I'm not certain about all the expenses but wouldn't that be a more traditional route for a sailboat in this day and age.

The problem with commercial fishing is space for stowing the gear, and preparing and storing the fish. I'd think the modifications you would have to make to allow that would also make it impractical as a full time live aboard. To say nothing of the logistics of actually fishing around your rigging.
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