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Real Good Fish | Fishermen A-Z | | Fishermen | Bringing you the freshest sustainably caught LOCAL seafood!
“Perhaps I should not have been a fisherman, he thought. But that was the thing that I was born for.”
- Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea
Kevin Butler

Kevin Butler grew up fishing and foraging up and down the California coast and ended up in Santa Cruz for the last 4 decades. He brought his fresh catches home and learned to prepare them. As a child, he preferred salmon roe and sea urchin to soda and candy, outdoors to the inside. His childhood...

Kevin Butler grew up fishing and foraging up and down the California coast and ended up in Santa Cruz for the last 4 decades. He brought his fresh catches home and learned to prepare them. As a child, he preferred salmon roe and sea urchin to soda and candy, outdoors to the inside. His childhood passions have developed into his current careers: a fisherman and chef.

He now fishes commercially for halibut, seabass, lingcod, rockfish, and sand dabs. He feels more comfortable on the water than on land. “When I go out fishing, I never have any idea how the day will work out," he said.  “But I’m away from cell phones, and land that can sometimes be claustrophobic.”

He not only sells seafood to Real Good Fish, but also works with Real Good Fish as our chef, preparing seafood for our events and doing our cooking demonstrations. He was the Executive Chef at Café Rio in Aptos, and enjoys showing people how really great local seafood can be.  “Instead of teaching or talking to people about how good fish can be, I got into showing them." If you've tried his chowder, anchovies or squid calamari at our events, you'll experience this for yourself. 

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Ron Farquhar

Ron Farquhar started fishing around 2002. Originally from San Francisco, a love of scuba diving brought him south to Monterey and he gradually eased his way into work as a commercial fisherman. In Ron’s case, a long “career” of personal spearfishing was his entry point. Next, he started working...

Ron Farquhar started fishing around 2002. Originally from San Francisco, a love of scuba diving brought him south to Monterey and he gradually eased his way into work as a commercial fisherman. In Ron’s case, a long “career” of personal spearfishing was his entry point. Next, he started working on charter fishing boats and then started his own business, Westwind Charter Sport Fishing & Excursions. The Westwind is a 31′ Island Hopper that calls Moss Landing its home port.

Ron now fishes commercially when salmon, halibut, albacore tuna, and white seabass are in season – generally from May to November. Throughout his work in fishing, the intimate knowledge of underwater “structure” (topography) he gained during his spearfishing and diving days has helped him to understand where to look for fish. Ron particularly enjoys fishing for white seabass and albacore since there’s so much excitement involved. The closure of the salmon seasons in 2008 and 2009 were tough, and adjusting to the rapid increase in area closures for MPAs has been difficult as well. Other challenges include occasional flooding of the market (leading to price drops) and fuel costs.

Ron tries to take advantage of fish closer to shore when possible to keep fuel costs down. Being able to sell to local buyers is a highlight of fishing for him, and he likes to know his local community is enjoying his catch. One of the most rewarding aspects of spending time on the ocean is seeing whales and dolphins, and being able to track schools of fish by watching birds feeding – it’s a way of witnessing the entire environmental cycle.

When not fishing, Ron works for the City of Monterey as a security worker for Monterey Harbor. In the course of patrolling the marina and wharf areas and checking on boats and moorings, Ron enjoys the people and hearing their stories from around the world. He also is able to keep a close eye on the types of fish being brought in by other fishermen on a daily basis. We’re glad to have started buying fish from Ron and wish him continued success!

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James Hoover

James was a carpenter for 15 years, his medium – concrete. He built bridges, water treatment plants, parking structures, and most proudly the Scotts Valley Middle School.

At the age of 29 James was watching Shark Week and decided he wanted to go fishing. From humble beginnings, James bought a...

James was a carpenter for 15 years, his medium – concrete. He built bridges, water treatment plants, parking structures, and most proudly the Scotts Valley Middle School.

At the age of 29 James was watching Shark Week and decided he wanted to go fishing. From humble beginnings, James bought a kayak and started fishing in the Elkhorn Slough. After a few trips, he grew adventurous and pointed his bow to the Moss Landing jaws and fished his kayak in the open ocean of the Monterey Bay. Shortly after he bought an 14-foot aluminum skiff and then quickly converted an old Sea Race ski boat to fish open access fisheries like rockfish and lingcod. 

In 2019 James decided to go full-time commercial fisherman. He bought the F/V Tina May, a 25 foot Farallon, from a recently widowed woman in Fort Bragg. Her husband was a carpenter and fisherman too and was looking to hand her husbands boat on to someone that would carry the legacy. Soon thereafter James acquired salmon and crab permits, completing the transition to full-time fisherman.

James’ favorite fish to catch and eat is lingcod, prepared simply in an aluminum foil boat full of salsa and grilled on the BBQ. 

James feels good about the current health of our local waters, especially compared to those he has seen in other countries and communities not as fortunate. He is optimistic about California king salmon in 2019 and is thankful for guidance from an old friend from Little League, Dave Toriumi, captain of the F/V Grinder and another fishing partner of Real Good Fish. 

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Giuseppe Pennisi

Giuseppe, who goes by "Joe," comes from a long line of family fishermen. Joe's great grandfather was born in Sicily and emigrated to Monterey in 1906. Joe started fishing with his father on the F/V San Giovanni at the age of 7. It wasn't too much later when he took over fishing and running his...

Giuseppe, who goes by "Joe," comes from a long line of family fishermen. Joe's great grandfather was born in Sicily and emigrated to Monterey in 1906. Joe started fishing with his father on the F/V San Giovanni at the age of 7. It wasn't too much later when he took over fishing and running his father's boats during the summer when the regular crew was fishing up in Alaska. During the school year, Joe and his brothers would fish after school and on weekends, often landing more fish than the old timers who were fishing all week!

By the age of 18, Joe purchased his own boat, the F/V All Mighty, and motored up to Alaska from Seattle. He fished that boat for 3 years, until it sank due to a cracked weld from the icy water. For a few more years he worked on a factory trawler that fished night and day for Alaskan pollock, bringing in 200-300 tons per HOUR, and turning that fish into "fake crab," also known as surimi. After putting in some serious time up north, Joe found a boat in Gloucester, Massachusetts, the F/V Vito C. He motored it down the East Coast, through the Panama Canal, and up the West Coast to Monterey. "It wasn't an easy trip," he said, "big stormy seas all the way down to Panama." When he returned to Monterey, quotas were cut dramatically, which didn't make it feasible to own a boat as large as the Vito C., so he sold it for a much smaller boat: the F/V Pioneer, which he owns and operates today.

Joe and the Pioneer are a remarkable story. When he purchased the Pioneer, he was only able to run it for a few years until the economics of running the boat were unfeasible, given the amount of fish he was allowed to catch and the amount of fish he had to throw back. At that time, shortsighted regulation and management strategies had him throwing back more fish than he would bring to the dock. "We'd bring in 25,000 pounds of fish in one tow and have to discard 80% of it." It wasn't long before the economics and morality of such an endeavor made him realize he was involved in a fishery causing more harm than good, so he left the water and turned to the shore to start a new career as a general contractor. Around that time, in 2004, Joe's brother, David "Rowdy" Pennisi, was lost at sea fishing aboard his boat, the F/V Relentless. The tragic event, still shrouded in mystery and uncertainty, has left ripples in our community that can be felt today.

Fast forward 8 years to 2011, Joe returned to the Pioneer when the Pacific Fisheries Management Council revised its management strategy to address the unsustainable discards and dying industry. A new "catch shares" management strategy was implemented, giving fishermen the freedom to work together and sell and trade quota, including bycatch species, as a way to collectively support economic success and reduce environmental impact. This management strategy is not without controversy and conflict, however, because there is the opportunity for large corporate interests to aggregate large quantities of quota as a form of monopolization in the industry. Fortunately, there are emerging policies being put in place to protect fishermen and their communities from these inequitable market forces. In the long term, the verdict is still out on how this management strategy will change the lives of those who call this coast home. For the short term, it is a light at the end of the tunnel, giving fishermen like Joe a sense of hope that hasn't been felt for many years.

Within the context of this management shift, Joe was able to start fishing again. And not only has he been able to start fishing again, Joe has been able to improve his vessel's overall efficiency, reduce environmental impact, and improve product quality. The net that he custom built reduces bottom contact by 95%, while reducing the weight of the gear by 9,500 pounds. The vessel has been outfitted with new engines that decrease emissions while improving power, and most recently he's installed state of the art refrigeration to keep the product on his boat at 32 degrees. It's been a long, challenging journey for Joe, but he's never lost sight of what makes him happy: his family and fishing.

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Brendan Pini

Brendan grew up in Santa Cruz, fishing with his grandfather, and his mother. “My mom is a great steelhead fisher,” he said. “She really knows how to read a river.” He’s 27 years, old, and believes that it’s important that younger people take up the mantle and fish commercially, but he approaches...

Brendan grew up in Santa Cruz, fishing with his grandfather, and his mother. “My mom is a great steelhead fisher,” he said. “She really knows how to read a river.” He’s 27 years, old, and believes that it’s important that younger people take up the mantle and fish commercially, but he approaches it with the perspective that fishermen are stewards of the ocean. It’s no surprise that he’s also a biology student at UC Santa Cruz, and believes that fishermen and marine resource managers can work together to create a sustainable system. 

He started off working as a deckhand on charter boats out of San Francisco and Santa Cruz, and now deckhands for commercial crabbing and salmon boats out of Moss Landing. He runs his own skiff, Mysealium, out of Santa Cruz and works the open access fisheries like white sea bass, halibut, sand dabs, and ling cod. His favorite fish to eat is Petrale sole, noting the light texture and mild flavor. But he likes to fish for California halibut the best. “It’s a nice long drift, not too crowded with other boats,” he explained. “When the tide shifts and the bite turns on, it gets exciting.”

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Dave Toriumi

Dave Toriumi has fished for fun most of his life, but is now running his own boat as a commercial fisherman off the coast of California. He owns the 22-foot Pioneer and uses hook-and-line gear to go after king salmon, halibut, seabass, lingcod and sand dabs. Some people in Watsonville may...

Dave Toriumi has fished for fun most of his life, but is now running his own boat as a commercial fisherman off the coast of California. He owns the 22-foot Pioneer and uses hook-and-line gear to go after king salmon, halibut, seabass, lingcod and sand dabs. Some people in Watsonville may recognize his name from Toriumi Auto Repair, a shop his dad owns where he has worked as a mechanic. He also has a mobile auto shop, but his passion is for being out on the ocean. “I like the lifestyle of a fisherman,” he said. “There’s no traffic, no boss, and a freedom out there that’s hard to find on land.” And this connection is being passed on to the next generation. His son, River Robert Toriumi's, first word was “boat.”

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Tuk Yi

Tuk caught his first rockfish with his dad when he was 8 years old. They fished together recreationally on their 15 ft. aluminum boat almost every weekend, and when Tuk turned 16, his father bought a bigger boat and they both began fishing commercially. Tuk is currently a part-time commercial...

Tuk caught his first rockfish with his dad when he was 8 years old. They fished together recreationally on their 15 ft. aluminum boat almost every weekend, and when Tuk turned 16, his father bought a bigger boat and they both began fishing commercially. Tuk is currently a part-time commercial fisherman who fishes three to seven days a week out of Monterey, Moss Landing, and Santa Cruz, depending on the season. His other part-time job is working as an auto mechanic, something he enjoys immensely and that allows him to pursue his hobby and passion racing cars.

Tuk loves being out on the water in the early morning and knowing that every day will be different. When asked about the challenges of commercial fishing, he mentions all the work involved with fishing beyond catching the fish: where to fish, weather, wind, currents and, ultimately, making the right decisions.

His favorite way to cook sand dabs is unusual: simply pan fry one side, then sprinkle bits of crispy bacon on the uncooked side and flip it and cook that side until done. Yum! 

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