With fishing experience before Keith Colburn, “Wild” Bill Wichrowski and even Sig Hansen, Rip Carlton is one of the longest serving professional fishermen in the fleet. After moving to Alaska in the mid-1970s, Carlton started from the bottom and never stopped looking for more. He first worked in a factory while looking for a job on a boat, and before heading off on a fishing trip, his first job in the commercial fishing industry was on the dock, offloading shrimp (via The Bulletin). Factory and dock work didn’t last too long as he sneaked into the Norwegian shrimp fisherman and got a job on a boat in just four months.
“I wanted to impress them with my work ethic and I did and they told me they heard there was a job opening up on another boat. So I went over and got hired around 6 a.m. when the boys woke up with a hangover and nobody wanted to go fishing and I stood there,” Carlton told OPB.
Most sailors are just happy to get the gig, but that was just a foot in the door for Carlton. In an interview with his fabricator and distributor, Keyport LLC, he comically describes his rise from greenhorn to owner-operator. “When I was down on deck and filling bait cans for the first time, I looked at the guy operating the hydraulics – the chief – I said, ‘That’s the job you want.’ Then, wait a minute, I looked up at the guy running the boat and I said, ‘Nah, that’s the job you want.’ Then I went down to the shipyard and I saw the owner show up every now and then and I was like, ‘Oh wait a minute… that’s the guy!’ So I did the whole thing.” At this rate, he’ll be running his own fleet in no time!