Back when I was still just a fisherman’s girlfriend, there was a wonderful blog I read often called Commercial Fishing Mom. It was written by a woman from a fifth-generation commercial fishing family who had herself married a fisherman. It was a chronicle of what life was like for her and her family. Of her husband leaving and returning from sea and how her kids dealt with that; of their trips to the boat; stories from her own past as a deckhand on her family’s boat; and sometimes just updates on how her children were doing in school.
When I was dating Nic I read it from the first post (written before her children were even born) to the most recent one, trying to get an idea of what I was in for. It read like a delightful memoir or a friendly chat over coffee that was also a comprehensive commercial fishing glossary. Unfortunately, she stopped writing it and eventually took it down a year or two ago.
Silly creature that I am, I didn’t have the forethought to save my favorite posts. There were several that I felt were very good (and maybe the only) internet resources on certain aspects of commercial fishing family life.
One was a gift post that she did in response to an email sent by a commercial fishing girlfriend who had no idea what to get her boyfriend leaving for the salmon season. As someone new to fishing myself without a strong grip on what life on a boat was like, I found it very helpful and definitely used a few of the ideas.
With the salmon season once again right around the corner, I thought I would write my own version.
So, if there’s a commercial fisherman or fisherwoman in your life and you’re not sure what would make a great gift for them, read on!
20 Thoughtful Pre-Season Gifts for Commercial Fishermen (and -women)
Some of the links below are affiliate links, which means I get a small commission (at no cost to you) if you click on them and make a purchase.
1. New boat mug ~ Coffee is a fishing essential and so is not having your coffee tip over when the boat rolls. These mugs are stable, non-breakable, and non-skid.
2. A ziplock bag full of their favorite sweet and salty snacks ~ Candy, chips, nuts, chocolate, etc. Anything munchy and sort of non-perishable.
3. A Tools of the Trade t-shirt by the Salmon Sisters ~ Pretty much anything from the Salmon Sisters is a good bet. They are a lovely pair of fisher-ladies from Homer, AK who have built a successful business selling amazing fishing apparel in the offseason. They were even featured in Vogue!
4. An e-reader pre-loaded with light reading material ~ Space is usually limited even on big boats, so bringing a lot of books along just isn’t practical.
5. The Young Fisherman’s Almanac ~ This would be the perfect gift for a fisherman heading out for his first season. It has art, stories, and pithy advice from the young fishermen and women of Alaska. One of our friends from Kodiak (and the captain of the F/V North Star) actually has a quote in it.
6. New movies ~ Our crew usually watches the same fifteen movies over and over all summer. Anything new is always appreciated!
7. A bag of Open When Letters ~ I made these for Nic one summer to great success. Letters take a long time to make their way to the right boat, but if you write them in advance and send them in a box all at once, you don’t have to wait for the cannery and the tenders to take their sweet time with your letters.
8. Waterproof phone case ~ Well, it’ll give your fisherman’s phone a fighting chance, anyway.
9. Victorinox paring knife and sheath ~ For some reason, they’re everyone’s favorite all-purpose knife and just as good in the kitchen as they are on the boat. Something about the color options? Nic usually carries a pink one in hopes that other fishermen will be less likely to “borrow it” from him.
10. Snuggly boat blanket ~ Those soft fleecy blankets are nice. Dark colors are probably a good idea.
11. Fluffy new boat towel ~ After a while, they just get crusty and covered in slime and washing starts almost not to feel worth it.
12. New sleeping bag ~ Bonus points if it’s extra compact, but still warm.
13. Nice fresh socks ~ Nic tells me there’s almost nothing better than putting on fresh socks after a day of having the ocean in your boots.
14. Warm hat ~ Save your hand knitted wonders for later since they’ll only get dirty. Thick, double layer beanies made of wool or synthetic materials are ideal.
15. Warm hoodie ~ They keep your fisherman warm and they dry out quickly.
16. Sweatpants or fluffy pajama bottoms ~ The “uniform” for many fishermen. Think of it as giving them a new pair of work slacks 😉
17. Under Armor base layers ~ These are great for wearing under rain gear since they dry out so quickly
18. Gift card to the fisheries supply store wherever their boat ties up ~ because your fisherperson probably knows what he or she needs better than you do.
19. Gift card for a massage ~ by three-quarters of the way through the season, the crew spends a lot of their in-town time sitting around on heaps of stacked corks rubbing their shoulders and cataloging all the weird aches and pains they’ve acquired since last time they were in town. A relaxing massage would be a much-appreciated gift they would probably never buy for themselves.
And, if you feel like a splurge…
If you want to see some of the pictures of our boat being dropped in the water, you should go check out my facebook page!