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Behind the scenes with the men and women who bring Monterey some of the best seafood in the world.

Joseph Lucido and his 10-year-old daughter, Julia Lucido

Joseph Lucido and his 10-year-old daughter, Julia Lucido, bag up fresh king salmon for customers during a dock sale. Julia helps keep the sales moving in a timely manner. Photographed with a Canon R5 16mm at F/3.2.

Daniel Dreifuss here to share the cover story in this week’s print edition of the Weekly, told mostly through photos. I have lived close to the ocean for most of my life, and I’m a pescatarian, so seafood is a big part of my diet. I also love fishing. After living in Monterey for over a year now, I wanted to see the inner workings of the commercial fishing industry and what it takes to catch the delicious seafood that comes from the bay. 

In my neighborhood there are a few people who have boats and who fish, and one of them is Joseph Lucido (@freshcatchmonterey). Lucido provides fish to a local wholesaler and helped to get the dockside sales started at Wharf 2. While reporting this story I got to see Lucido in action catching halibut and cutting up the prized king salmon for waiting customers.

Lucido is a Monterey native who grew up around the wharf; his parents owned a restaurant serving breakfast and lunch. Starting at a young age he got to know local fishermen, and was invited to go out and learn the art of catching. After a trip to Bristol Bay in Alaska with his grandfather, he was hooked. At 16 he bought his first boat and after working on a number of charter boats from age 16 to 30, he eventually got the 21-foot Robalo boat he takes out solo. He catches crab, salmon, halibut, bonito and lingcod during their respective seasons, with the bulk of his fishing happening between May and October. A few years ago, he worked with the harbor and the city of Monterey to allow dockside sales. 

The city and harbor started allowing dock sales in 2020, and for Lucido this has been great. He posts on his social media when the fish will be available and customers often start lining up nearly two hours before he’s even returned to shore.

Neil Gugliemo, another fisherman I spoke with, comes from a long line of fishermen. His great grandfather, grandfather, father and uncles were all fishermen. Gugliemo started his fishing career near Los Angeles in San Pedro fishing for halibut, crab, swordfish and lobster. Now he fishes for sardines, mackerel and squid. “Monterey is a beautiful place to fish,” he says. 

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Leaving in the evenings on weeknights, the 80-and-a-half year-old—he insists on noting the half—heads out to drop his net and collect fish. “It is getting harder and harder. The price of fuel, insurance, the regulations and price of fish is affecting the way I can survive,” he explains.

This was a fun story to tell and to photograph—it is nice to know where your food comes from. Learning more about the restrictions that commercial fishermen face and what they are willing to do to help make the industry sustainable was an important lesson. Hardworking fishermen (and women) put in a lot of time, energy and patience into bring Monterey some of the best seafood in the world.

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