For our first Fisherman Friday blog of the new year, we are featuring a captain who was the first to become a commercial fisherman in his family, Matt Perez. Matt got his student license at age 12 and started hand-hauling his 150 traps out of Sylvester’s Cove via a 12’ skiff. “I had too many outboards to remember which was my first” recalled Matt.
This taste of independence suited Matt, “I love what I do for work” he admitted! Over the years he’s moved through at least six different boats, upgrading gradually, working double shifts under various captains while hauling his own gear in the afternoons. After at least 15 years of working as a sternman, and four years of working double shifts, Matt decided he would fish his own gear full time.
These days, Matt can be found at the helm of F/V: De Ja Vu, named so because “it’s same, same, every day, every year” reflected Matt. This 45’ MDI keeps Matt and crew in the water lobstering all year long. In the winter, when the Maine lobsters move further off-shore, Matt and crew will go out for overnight trips to maximize their time while that far away from home. Joel Billings was one of the many captains that Matt fished for previously. Matt attributes some of his drive for fishing in rough weather to his time spent working for Joel Billings. “I can remember on days with questionable weather, when I was fishing for someone else, we’d go to ‘have a look at it’ and decide the weather was too bad, and there would be Joel, headed out with his crew to fish through the weather.” This feeling of seeing others get out to fish, while Matt remained on shore might have something to do with the drive that keeps Matt fishing throughout the winter, and throughout the feelings of ‘de ja vu.’
While certainly many days bleed together, the freedom and ability to be self-motivated keeps Matt going day after day. Having a bottomless supply of lobster to eat doesn’t hurt either! In fact, Matt and his wife, Tara, really enjoy Greenhead Lobster tails! All caught by local fishermen and women who sell to Greenhead Lobster, these tails hold the authentic taste and texture that is expected from fresh live Maine lobster, but with more convenience. Easy to thaw and throw on the grill, Matt likes having the tails on hand! Matt’s favorite way to eat lobster—battered and fried lobster tails, “it’s like shrimp, but better!” Matt said.
There isn’t much ‘de ja vu’ with regard to the crew this year however. After four years on the stern, Chris Klemenz is finishing his time on F/V: De Ja Vu to fish his own gear full time, and Eric Smith is joining the crew in his place. Going thirdman through the winter is Nick Saunders, and before we know it, Spring will be here and the shifting will continue.