I recently returned from Alaska, having safely completed my twentieth year in the Bristol Bay sockeye salmon fishery. I am fortunate to have the opportunity to blend my role as a skipper with my position as Deckhand Logbook’s business development manager for North America, where our primary goal as a company is to develop and deploy Deckhand as an innovative “fishermen-first” electronic logbook solution for harvesters worldwide. 

Considering these two roles, my fishing boat is a natural testing ground for Deckhand. This summer proved to be the most exciting yet in terms of how far the software has come. After lots of hard work and dedication by our team, I saw firsthand how our software is now more than just a logbook for mandated electronic reporting: it has now evolved into a true “fishman’s logbook.” Many of the things I was once writing on paper, for my own use, were now able to be recorded in Deckhand. 

Bristol Bay is an extremely unforgiving environment for a piece of software, let alone an iPad: low connectivity, relatively small fishing boats, rough weather, and round-the-clock fishing make it difficult to even want to interact with an app. However, over the years, we’ve worked hard to evolve Deckhand into a tool that fishermen enjoy using. 

The version of Deckhand Pro I tested was designed specifically for Bristol Bay. Our Catchflow™ technology allows our team to rapidly design, adjust, and deploy customized versions of Deckhand Pro to fisheries with specific needs. Bri Snell, our tech support team member in North America, built the “Bristol Bay Catchflow” and I loaded it into my copy of Deckhand Pro prior to leaving for the fishing grounds.

I collected specific data that a typical Bristol Bay fisherman would be interested in collecting, such as onboard refrigeration data, catch-on-board and loading data specific to individual fish holds, the average weight of fish (to calculate total estimated poundage on board), and processor-specific delivery information when it came time to offload. Bri was even able to add in a button to choose the type of crane picks when delivering at the tender vessel (single or double) with associated weights. Finally, I could look at the running tallies of my season as time went on. 

Keep in mind that the data I collected during this testing phase was for my own use. For example, refrigeration info can be used later during the off-season to reconcile fish hold temperatures against the HOBO data loggers we’re required by processors to carry. I can look at drifts that I made on the map screen to see where I spent most of my time during the past season and caught most of my fish. Graphs can be generated to show when, during the season, most of my landings by weight were made. And that’s just the start. 

In the end, this is the point that really energizes me: this season, I could finally do away with my paper “Captain Jack’s” logbook and record all my season tallies for my business using Deckhand Pro. Regulations and rules aside – when we can finally say, as a company (and when I can finally say, as a harvester), that Deckhand is replacing the fisherman’s paper logbook, progress is being made and our customers are the winners.

– Lange Solberg