Fish Tales

The Faces of California Fishing is pleased to provide web space for our fisherman authors and poets to share their writings.

Two Mistakes

By: Paul Benadik

For young Paul Benadik, life seemed good. It was 1963 and he owned his first commercial fishing boat, the F/V Faith. After months of work, he finally had the boat out on the ocean and was in pursui... Read More.

The Albatross: What is Intelligence?

By: Josh Churchman

What is intelligence? The ability to learn or understand from experience; the ability to acquire and retain knowledge; to use reason to solve a problem; and any degree of keenness of mind, cleverne... Read More.

White Whales

By: Josh Churchman

What is intelligence? The ability to learn or understand from experience; the ability to acquire and retain knowledge; to use reason to solve a problem; and any degree of keenness of mind, cleverne... Read More.

In Gratitude

By: Travis Evans

With wrinkled time-worn hands
Half folded in her lap,
She relaxed in her easy chair
And caught an early nap.

And as she rested there,
My eyes filled with tears,
... Read More.

Miracle at Sea

By: Travis Evans

On a warm, sunny afternoon in August of 1966, our 15 year old son and I were about 75 miles offshore of central Oregon in our fishing boat, the “Yankee Girl”. The albacore tuna were biting like... Read More.

That Old Rocking Chair

By: Travis Evans

In the dim and distant past,
When life’s pace wasn’t quite so fast,
Grandmas used to sit and rock and knit,
And tat, crochet and sometimes even babysit.

Now the dear o... Read More.

Who's Getting Old?

By: Travis Evans

People say I’m getting old.
I’ve heard this many times untold.
Now this old shell in which I dwell
Is growing old, I know quite well,
But I myself am not the shell.
Read More.

She is We

By: Lori French

A single tear rolls down her cheek; there will be so many more to follow. She has had the phone call. The “You need to come down to the harbor,” call that every fisherman’s wife dreads. She h... Read More.

Munched by a Great White

By: Robert Gieskens

In the late 1990s, California’s commercial salmon trollers were enjoying good fishing just outside the Farallone Islands. Rising just before daylight, they would start their engines and point the... Read More.

A Fish Story

By: Teri Harris

Cupping a hot mug of coffee eases the cramping in my hands as I gaze at the sky gathering light to the east. Drifting in the big seas, the boat is low in the water and heaves sluggishly in the trou... Read More.

Beer Cans & Paper Plates

By: John Hurwitz

As fishermen, we spend an inordinate amount of time running from one reported bite to the next. More often than not, when we get to the "hot bite", people are saying, "you should have been here yes... Read More.

Run for the Border

By: John Hurwitz

Our Mexican fishing license arrived in the mail just as we were finishing up the live bait tank for the boat. We scanned it carefully making sure we understood the conditions under which we would b... Read More.

Three Beers

By: John Hurwitz

It was late July ’85 when this strange tale took place. I had just switched over from salmon to albacore and decided to take on a deck hand. My boat was a Monk design, Sagstaad built, 50 ft troll... Read More.

Wrong Way Driver

By: John Hurwitz

Sitting in my brother’s driveway, rigging new crab pots, I realized that the upcoming crab season was our first joint effort at fishing since we were kids. Buzz was 8 years older than me, so his ... Read More.

Have a Real Nice Day

By: Ernie Köepf

Along Highway 101 in the Redwoods, it gets very quiet as winter approaches. That stretch of road between Leggett and Eureka can be dark and long and the only sound is that of a Jake-brake compressi... Read More.

The Tiger Woman Strikes

By: Ernie Köepf

 I was wild and that’s the way I liked it. My restless soul required strenuous exercise, which sometimes took the form of jarring personal experience. It did create some pause and reflection at ... Read More.

2008: A Year to Remember

By: Ernie Köepf

It is springtime and fishermen cannot help but think upon the prospects for the coming year and how best to prepare for them. Spring is a time of hope, haul outs and this year a little retrospectiv... Read More.

Half a Boat

By: Harlen Larsen

Finally, the fateful summer of 1969 rolled around – remembered by most for events such as Woodstock and the first moon walk, events which pale compared to Morro Bay commercial fisherman Harlen La... Read More.

The Wreck of the Angola

By: Edward E. Long

NOTE:  This article contains the account of a shipwreck involving Hjalmar S. Johnson (1880 – 1964), son of  Carolina Olsdotter (23) and Johannes Nilsson (see page 14f).  The article origina... Read More.

Fishing with Mike #1

By: Mike McCorkle

I think it was in the late 70's there were some salmon around Santa Barbara and some boats had come down from the north. At that time, I had no experience catching salmon, but I knew some of the fi... Read More.

Fishing with Mike #2

By: Mike McCorkle

I was fishing rock crabs up the coast from Santa Barbara in 1968, and one day along came the late Al French. He had some pots on the boat, and asked me if he could fish around where I was.
Read More.

Little Man with a Big Heart

By: Mike McCorkle

About 1958, two friends and myself left to go up north to look for a fishing boat for one of the two friends. I was a veteran fisherman, as I had owned my own boat for a year; a 30-foot Monterey. M... Read More.

A Typical Day in the Life of a Fisherwoman

By: Sheila Moser

The alarm goes off at 5 a.m. and I rise feeling grateful for the gentle movement of the boat. We’ve had “greasy slick” seas the last couple of days, which means no knobby knees or curvature o... Read More.

Lobster Island

By: Jim Murphy

It was 1972; five years had passed since Jim Murphy had launched his new 50-foot long steel commercial fishing boat. On top of boat expenses, he had a wife, a mortgage to consider, and a future to ... Read More.

Whales at Rittenburg Banks

By: Jeremiah O'Brien

A few years ago Billy Lester and I were fishing Salmon around the north island up towards Fanny Shoals. We were catching some very nice Salmon at the time and they seemed to be moving further out t... Read More.

In the Fog with Bob

By: Bob & Roxie Pierce

In 1976, after many years spent traveling around the country repairing packing equipment, Bob Pierce turned to fishing full time. From the outset, the novice fisherman had the good fortune to be ta... Read More.

Boat Fever

By: Steve Pschaida

When commercial fisherman Steve Pschaida bought his first boat in 1973, he had what he describes as “boat fever.” He knew the vessel needed a lot of care, but after working in the San Diego shi... Read More.

Know Fear

By: Mike Shipp

The salmon boats left in the dark before dawn and if Tony had seen how big the surf was, he'd have never left his slip. If he had known how big the waves were he'd have slept in and gone surfing in... Read More.

Schooled by Victor

By: Mike Shipp

There wasn’t a day that summer that Victor Ghio wasn’t the first person down to the harbor in the morning. Tony slept on his boat, the Chloe Marie, and set the alarm for 4:30 or 5:00 depending ... Read More.

Queen of Morro Bay

By: Barbara Stickel

When I first heard of Regina, all I knew was that she was supposed to be really tough, a seasoned veteran. Her past history of dependability, of always rising to whatever challenges she faced, had ... Read More.

The Ghost of Fisherman's Wharf

By: Rob Tillitz

I SAW THE GHOSTLY APPIRITION for the first time on a night

I spent tied to the old Standard Oil fuel dock. The unique smell

of the Wharf was low-tide strong: goose barnacles; creo... Read More.


By: Rob Tillitz

I'm in my slip, on the back deck, bored, strippin' the boat for crab season. Summer's over, it's Crescent City in the fall, and I'm still a bit giddy after having played 50 Ways To Swill Your Ma... Read More.

One Taco Short

By: Rob Tillitz

John Szymczak fancies himself a connoisseur. He's not delusional, he knows he's a "blue-collar" connoisseur. A man who's spent most of his life doing something around the docks, either fishing or... Read More.

The Yukon Gang

By: Rob Tillitz and Rich Burtleson

“We’ve come so far North we got’ta be gettin’ close to the Yukon,” Mario proclaimed. And with those words, the storied Yukon Gang was born. The five-boat flotilla had just rounded Point A... Read More.


By: Brian Williamson

Back in 2002 Brian had one of those trips where everything is going well, the weather and the catch. Well that all changed once he made it north of Pt. Purisma. Below Purisma the weather was absolu... Read More.