Tips for Communicating w/ a Commercial Fisherman

Communicating with your commercial fisherman can be few and far between when he’s on a fishing boat.

So, to provide a peek inside what many partners of fishermen face, I’ve published a personal correspondence with a lovely lady named Christy, a therapist in Bend, Oregon (hey Christy!).

Chrisy reached out with the question, What is considered “normal” communication when your man is out at sea? This question led to a sequence of emails, filled with the emotional nuances of adjusting to this kind of life.

So, instead of describing our conversation to you, what better way to show you what women go through than to post emails that otherwise would have been kept private? Now that’s clear communication!

Also, if you have any questions about dating a commercial fisherman or anything else, please email me! I would love to chat with you:

Let’s dive in!

Tips for Communicating w/ a Commercial Fisherman

Christy: “Hey! Question about cell service out on boats: Eric & I literally just started dating weeks before he left. He said he’d have service, and he did for a few days, but a crew member got hurt, the Coast Guard got involved, etc. Last I heard, they “might” get another guy, but I’m not sure. Tons more work to be done for the season, obviously. 

“I’ve heard from him a couple of times via text after that, but now waaaaay less.

“Is that normal?

“Is there no service at all in some spots and more in others?  I’m trying not to be insecure; I just have little idea what to expect here. Thanks for any insight you can provide.” 

alaska fishing boat view Chris Dabney
B.F.E.: A photo Chris sent me after the season when he was back on the grid; his view from a 2018 commercial salmon fishing season in Cordova, Alaska. Photo: Chris Dabney

Megan: Hey Christy! Thanks for reaching out, I’m flattered! I understand you’re in the trenches right now and it’s totally normal not to hear from him as often. Especially, if they’re down a guy, it means they’re hustling even more with fewer breaks to chat or text. Double that if they’ve moved to remote locations. Basically, not having cell service on a fishing boat is more normal than actually having it.

Also, their hours are nuts to people like us on land. To them, days and times blend into the next set and sleep. The outside world becomes secondary because that’s their normal. 

You are doing great.

Just answer his texts with encouraging words and keep the vibes/prayers going for him and his crew. Go about your life and try not to let your mind go down a hole that he is unsafe in any way. (Someone once told me that worrying is like, praying for something you don’t want. Love that.) And whatever you do, don’t watch Deadliest Catch!

Thanks so much again for reaching out. I hope this helps and I hope you get reunited with your man sooner than later. 💕

commercial salmon fishing Bristol Bay
BEFORE: For example, here’s what it looks like in Bristol Bay before fishermen set nets. I received this photo when Chris got to the airport in Anchorage, AK to head home. Even on land, service is so sketchy in some places. Especially when all the fishermen come back to port and everyone is on wifi and their phones! Photo: Chris Dabney
commercial salmon fishing boats Alaska
AFTER: What it looks like after they set the nets. According to Chris, boats nudge each other, trying to get the best spot. Shiz goes down! Photo: Chris Dabney

Christy: Thanks so much for your quick response. I really appreciated it. It’s so weird at the beginning of a relationship – where you have all of these questions and “what ifs” anyway – and then throw a big ocean between you with no communication to make the mind go in all sorts of directions.

But, I did hear from him this morning. Yay! 

This is all uncharted territory for me. I am a therapist in Bend, Oregon, and I met him here, actually, when he was on a break from fishing off the Oregon coast. (He is actually from Texas and now seining for salmon in Alaska.) What is this craziness?!

But, he is one of the most interesting people I have ever met, so I am going along for the ride. He is coming back to see me in Central Oregon in September when he gets off the boat, so I’m looking forward to that.

I truly appreciate your blog posts – there isn’t a lot out there about dating a commercial fisherman, and it’s nice to have some first-hand information, for sure.

Alaska commercial fishing boats
Alaska commercial fishing boats resting before a season begins. Photo: Marnie Leist

Megan: Hey Christy! Yay! So glad you heard from your sweetie. Man, that takes a load off, doesn’t it? Seriously, my pleasure to hear from you! It shows that there is a community of us that needs to chat! Thank you for the inspiration to keep the conversation going!

Have fun with your man in September (think that’s when I’ll see mine, too 🙂 ) and enjoy the ride of dating a commercial fisherman! It’s a curious life, but fulfilling and passionate in all the right spots. Especially for a woman who has her own life going on, which it sounds like you do.

Christy: Also, thank you for the voicemail suggestion. I have done that a couple of times, and he really seems to like it.

Megan: Aw, that’s so awesome to hear!!! This was my first summer doing it, and I’m so glad to hear it works for you! ❤️❤️

Christy: Yes, I have a lot of my own life going on, and the independence of the relationship is appealing for sure. Plus, the separation periods and the time apart seem like they might prolong the excitement of the relationship, which is pretty great. Who doesn’t like the giddy, intoxicating feeling of a new relationship?!?…

Read Part 2 here!

Y’all!! Your comments and emails have been everything so, let’s keep the party going! What are your thoughts about dating a fisherman? What does your commercial fisherman appreciate the most? We want to know! Please comment below or email me at

Even more tips for you!:

Sex & Dating a Commercial Fisherman

Dating A Commercial Fisherman: Q&A w/ Photographer Bri Dwyer

How-To Long-Distance Date a Commercial Fisherman

[UPDATE] 9 Things To Know When Dating a Fisherman

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  1. Hi, Mrs. Waldrep, my name is Joshua Albus. I loved this post thanks for making it! I am a student at Liberty University in VA studying carpentry and business. I live for Jesus and fishing. I am looking for a job this summer to offset school costs and am interested in the commercial side of fishing. I have moved 14 times with the military, due to my father being active duty Navy, and have fished almost every fish in the US it seems. I want something newer and tougher. Do you have any insider information you would be willing to share with me on what fishing companies are reputable and honest? I am willing to work 12 weeks of summer but I do not want to fly up there and be left on the dock if I don’t know quite what I’m doing yet. I’m a fast learner and give everything my best effort. I understand you are very busy but on the chance you are interested in contacting me, my email is and my number is 757-706-1728. Thank you for your time, ma’am. God bless.