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Tampa Commercial Fishing

Old 11-08-2020, 08:10 AM
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Default Tampa Commercial Fishing

Hey, Iím a new member to this thread. Been using the website for years now just never made a account. If anyone donít mind sharing, where do commercial fishermen sell their catches in Tampa Bay. Grouper, Mackeral, etc.. ? Iíve been wanting to start commercial fishing slowly here and there when Iím not working so I can really get the feel for it as a side job for a few years until I can hopefully one day do it full time.

thank you, any advice or knowledge will help.
Old 11-08-2020, 08:40 AM
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Have you thought about a mate position on a commercial boat? The two fish you named are the most expensive permits to buy
Old 11-08-2020, 08:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Fishoi View Post
Have you thought about a mate position on a commercial boat? The two fish you named are the most expensive permits to buy

Yes I have. Iíve been wanting to start there so I can learn that way but I havenít met anyone yet thats commercial. Iíve done a little looking around for posts for shipmate help but no luck. I know itís a expensive initial cost to start but I donít mind because it is something I truly want to do.
Old 11-08-2020, 03:16 PM
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Do you have the licenses & then specific fish permits, whether federal or state? I know anyone can get a Saltwater Products License from FWC, but then need to get a Restricted Species endorsement, which means you have sold a minimum annual amount to a wholesale buyer (of which has to start as non-restricted species sold in year 1). Usually species like blue runner are not restricted, so sell the minimum amount of that...donít recall), and then you can get the RS, but then you may need to get specific permits like Gulf Reef or kingfish to allow you to catch & sell those.

Best of luck, there are definitely several barriers to entry, but like anything else, if you are determined you can make it happen!
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Old 11-08-2020, 04:05 PM
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Originally Posted by TristanO97 View Post
Yes I have. I’ve been wanting to start there so I can learn that way but I haven’t met anyone yet thats commercial. I’ve done a little looking around for posts for shipmate help but no luck. I know it’s a expensive initial cost to start but I don’t mind because it is something I truly want to do.
Hello Tristan. We run 4 comm boats. Right now we are good on Capts and mates. I've got your screen name (so don't change it!) and when we need a mate I'll send you a PM. Mate turnover is average for us. We have really good Capts so we tend to keep our mates longer.

Once we get an opening I'll shoot you a PM ok? And if you have found something by the time you hear from me , no worries. Sooner you get out there working it sooner you can get on to Capt and then maybe your own boat.

Commercial fishing is hard my friend. My guys grind it out. So be prepared. Keep a good attitude. Watch and learn from your Capt. Don't be a jerk. Show up on time, be a good crew member. We all know each other around here, so a bad egg is not going to get a job.

Good luck!
Old 11-09-2020, 07:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Phins360 View Post
Hello Tristan. We run 4 comm boats. Right now we are good on Capts and mates. I've got your screen name (so don't change it!) and when we need a mate I'll send you a PM. Mate turnover is average for us. We have really good Capts so we tend to keep our mates longer.

Once we get an opening I'll shoot you a PM ok? And if you have found something by the time you hear from me , no worries. Sooner you get out there working it sooner you can get on to Capt and then maybe your own boat.

Commercial fishing is hard my friend. My guys grind it out. So be prepared. Keep a good attitude. Watch and learn from your Capt. Don't be a jerk. Show up on time, be a good crew member. We all know each other around here, so a bad egg is not going to get a job.

Good luck!

okay, sounds good. Iím a veteran so I know hard work brother so Iím ready for it. Iíll be watching my PMís. Iím sure you will be hearing from me on here soon, Iíll have plenty more questions as Iím learning Iím sure.
Old 11-09-2020, 07:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Smoke n Mirrors View Post
Do you have the licenses & then specific fish permits, whether federal or state? I know anyone can get a Saltwater Products License from FWC, but then need to get a Restricted Species endorsement, which means you have sold a minimum annual amount to a wholesale buyer (of which has to start as non-restricted species sold in year 1). Usually species like blue runner are not restricted, so sell the minimum amount of that...donít recall), and then you can get the RS, but then you may need to get specific permits like Gulf Reef or kingfish to allow you to catch & sell those.

Best of luck, there are definitely several barriers to entry, but like anything else, if you are determined you can make it happen!
I have read a lot about it and I know about the SPL & RS endorsement. I have filled out the paperwork for the SPL and Iím going to be working on the RS. Iíd love to start selling blue runners Iíve have been looking into that as well.
Old 11-09-2020, 08:22 AM
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I have a lot of experience in the gulf of mexico commercial fishing arena. I was previously a NOAA Fisheries Observer, let me save you a lot of time...........Find another profession.
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Old 11-09-2020, 11:05 AM
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Originally Posted by MattJimm View Post
I have a lot of experience in the gulf of mexico commercial fishing arena. I was previously a NOAA Fisheries Observer, let me save you a lot of time...........Find another profession.
This is pretty good advice as well. He sounded pretty motivated so I didn't want to discourage him.

It is hard, grinding work. Its getting harder to keep it going. This is not our primary source of income - always have a side gig they say that "really" pays the bills. We've been commercial here for a long time. It certainly isn't getting easier.
Old 11-09-2020, 11:35 AM
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Youll almost be better off starting a charter business as a side hustle, but thats just as tough with all the competition.
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Old 11-09-2020, 12:23 PM
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Originally Posted by MattJimm View Post
I have a lot of experience in the gulf of mexico commercial fishing arena. I was previously a NOAA Fisheries Observer, let me save you a lot of time...........Find another profession.
I only wanted to start in the Gulf because I work here on MacDill. But I do have plans to move to the east coast and maybe try the Atlantic. I see a lot of successful guys out that way. I can definitely tell itís slim pickinís in the Gulf as most guys Iíve asked advice from has told me itís a waste of time. So what do you think, is that worth it to you or do you think itís a waste on both sides?
Old 11-09-2020, 12:38 PM
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Waste. Unless you have a million dollars of capital to set up a true owner-captain-seller operation, after you blow through your million dollars getting started, your going to work full time around the clock and you might make a few thousand dollars a year with no benefits or retirement.

My advice, Become a mate on a charter boat, learn the business, learn to fish, put 3-4 times as much time into it as your expecting, and then maybe one day you might be alright being a charter captain. While your chartering, have a back up plan and a side hustle.
Old 11-09-2020, 06:57 PM
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Not as difficult as being made out. The Atlantic has a higher buy in but no shady catch shares scheme. That being said I have friends making bank on the West Coast of FL and rest of the Gulf with no previous experience on that side. I'd listen to the successful guys actually doing if they will talk to you or let you mate for a while rather than some sporty kooks on a forum. There are a few actual commercial guys here, but not all of them are owner operators but more like investors. At times it sounds like virgins talking about sex when people talk about commercial fishing here.
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Old 11-10-2020, 03:38 AM
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Originally Posted by froggyfisherman View Post
Not as difficult as being made out. The Atlantic has a higher buy in but no shady catch shares scheme. That being said I have friends making bank on the West Coast of FL and rest of the Gulf with no previous experience on that side. I'd listen to the successful guys actually doing if they will talk to you or let you mate for a while rather than some sporty kooks on a forum. There are a few actual commercial guys here, but not all of them are owner operators but more like investors. At times it sounds like virgins talking about sex when people talk about commercial fishing here.
Does your friends own the Gulf commercial reef permit or do they lease it?

Do they own the grouper/snapper allocation or do they lease it?

do they own the vessel or are they just the captain?

do they have a buyer lined up that will buy all the time or just when they need fish?

the way to make money, is to own all the above, and sell directly to consumer. But if donít have the quota or the permits, get ready to shell out some coin.

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Old 11-10-2020, 08:51 AM
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Originally Posted by MattJimm View Post
Does your friends own the Gulf commercial reef permit or do they lease it?

Do they own the grouper/snapper allocation or do they lease it?

do they own the vessel or are they just the captain?

do they have a buyer lined up that will buy all the time or just when they need fish?

the way to make money, is to own all the above, and sell directly to consumer. But if donít have the quota or the permits, get ready to shell out some coin.
We are owner operators.

We own our gulf permits

We own our allocation, and lease some too

We have pretty stable buyers. like I said my family has been in the commercial business on this coast since the early 70's. Sometimes though it gets sideways and you have to get creative.

The best is way is to be the chain - from source to consumer. That ain't easy around here given who is running the show.

Froggy I know you have experience, so I'm going to stop here and not throw spears at you. Believe me we are not internet keyboarding here.

Just trying to give Tristan some perspective. As you did too.
Old 11-10-2020, 10:20 AM
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In the GOM the NMFS wants to shrink the fleet. That shrinkage has come from catch shares.

It has also forced many small operators out so keep that in mind. A lot of the small operators that I know don't rely on the fishing to live off of. They have other means of income.

A good portion of the quota is owned by a small percentage of the fleet and the rest are fed scraps in the way of leasing shares.

The system really isn't designed for new participants especially for small operators.

Of course as mentioned, you have many permit and vessel requirements to get started.

Your looking at a pretty big investment in time and money to get into a very tough industry.

My family was in it for a very long time and they did well because they operated a off the boats to the consumer operation. This even included packaging and processing. It got so complicated they sold the business that was in the family for many years. The new owners didn't last very long.
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Old 11-10-2020, 10:24 AM
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No disrespect to you actual commercial operators. I know you guys are trying to give an accurate heads up.
My friends vary from part time crew to multi boat,multi permit, multi fishery owners. Bandit, longline, divers and kingfish.
If you treat it as a business and have a good reserve leasing allocation can be done cheaper in bulk. Also there are a few niche species not covered by the catch shares that can be pretty profitable. Deepwater is also very cheap compared to ARS and gag.
My family also goes back to the 70s on the Gulf and Keys owning or running bandit and longline boats but they've all since retired and the kids went either military or college instead of carrying on fishing. A lot easier way to make money if that's all you want. You got to either love it or have no other options.
Old 11-10-2020, 03:50 PM
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Originally Posted by froggyfisherman View Post
No disrespect to you actual commercial operators. I know you guys are trying to give an accurate heads up.
My friends vary from part time crew to multi boat,multi permit, multi fishery owners. Bandit, longline, divers and kingfish.
If you treat it as a business and have a good reserve leasing allocation can be done cheaper in bulk. Also there are a few niche species not covered by the catch shares that can be pretty profitable. Deepwater is also very cheap compared to ARS and gag.
My family also goes back to the 70s on the Gulf and Keys owning or running bandit and longline boats but they've all since retired and the kids went either military or college instead of carrying on fishing. A lot easier way to make money if that's all you want. You got to either love it or have no other options.
Got it and have posted this before.

It's a great read.

Novel material!

https://law.justia.com/cases/federal...30/136/462715/

Welcome to commercial fishing!

I was ten years old when the family christened this boat in Tarpon Springs


Last edited by 20biminitwist; 11-10-2020 at 03:56 PM.
Old 11-11-2020, 08:42 AM
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Prepare for 90% of recreational fisherman to hate you and blame you for every problem in the fishery.

The reality of it is years of red tide, increasing recreational harvest and warmer waters changing migration patterns have all had a severe impact on the fishery. If you want to fish your ass off day in and day out for a few days straight to make a few hundred bucks then this is a job for you. The work is hard, the hours are long, the weather isn't the best and alot of the folks involved in the industry around tampa bay are fairly rough. Avoid working on a longline boat and get on a hook and liner if you can, most of them do 4-7 day trips. Good luck!
Old 11-11-2020, 10:37 AM
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Originally Posted by fishinmaniac View Post
The work is hard, the hours are long, the weather isn't the best and alot of the folks involved in the industry around tampa bay are fairly rough. Avoid working on a longline boat and get on a hook and liner if you can, most of them do 4-7 day trips. Good luck!
Ive been on commercial bandit, longline, spear, rod n reel, and even buoy fishing boats. Long line boats stay out about 2 weeks but have a lot more comforts that bandit boats. Like actual bunks and AC. I cant even begin to tell you how many coolers Ive slept while out on bandit boats. Definitely avoid shrimp boats unless you like being offshore for a month at a time.

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