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When One Season Ends Another Begins For The Hopkins Fam | UFC Fight Pass

After A Season Of Wrestling And Attending Grad School For Economics, Most People Would Opt To Go On Vacation In Their Fffseason, But Not Campbell University’s Caleb Hopkins

The 184-pound Campbell Camel returns home to Palmer, Alaska every summer with the expectation of unwinding with family, enjoying the Alaskan scenery… and working with his family to fish for thousands of pounds of salmon a day.

Tourists pay sometimes thousands of dollars to get lost in the Alaskan waters in hopes of catching fish, while the Hopkins family has made their livelihood out of it since 2003.



Hopkins’ dad and uncle had started their commercial fishing business almost 20 years ago. Only a few years later, they kept the family together for the summer by making it a family affair.

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“We fish in this little village called Egegik,” Hopkins said. “We’ll be there for six weeks but I’m probably putting in at least 10-hour days, and then when the season really gets going, it gets closer to between 16-20 hours, depending on if stuff breaks down and all that.”

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To work eight hours in the Alaskan rain would be enough to drive anyone to want to collapse into their bed in their cabin. However, on most days, you only get four hours or so before it’s back to “the office.”



Short naps throughout the day are sometimes an option, but the jolts of rest are no match for the physical or mental toll some days.

“I would say an average day is probably like 56 degrees, a little bit of rain and probably like 10-15 miles-per-hour winds,” Hopkins said. “That’s a decent day; nothing too hard. Twice the season we’ll get a week straight of just 30 mile-an-hour winds and rain. It’s so cold your fingers will probably want to fall off.”



Worse than the exhaustion of the day in and day out grind is finding the motivation to get on the water after a long season only to find out there’s no fishing permitted by the Department of Fishing.



“The Department of Fishing will come on and they’ll say, depending on how many fish have swum by the day before, they’ll be like all right you can fish here, or you can’t,” Hopkins said. “We fish for eight hours, and then we come, and generally when they tell us we can fish, what they do is say, ‘All right, you can fish for eight hours,’ and then you get a four-hour break and then fish for eight hours again. That’s rain or shine, snow, wind tail, whatever; when they say fish, you’re out there fishing.”

Today, the family business is a full-on commercial fishing operation with four permits, five sites, a full crew and multiple 300-foot long nets to catch salmon. The setup sounds official enough to the untrained ear, but are Hopkins’ off-season endeavors enough to make a living?



“Probably 10 years ago we had one of our worst years ever and caught an average of 12,000 pounds per permit, which is nothing,” Hopkins said. “Let’s compare that with last summer, where we got nearly 380,000 pounds. By those standards, we caught 40,000 pounds in a day during that season. We made $1.25 per pound for salmon, and with expenses, it still came out to a whole lot.”

While most people work summer jobs to earn some extra cash, not everyone is working their summer job in cold weather and doing a lot of physical labor for a potential payout of $475,000. The work may not be easy, but Hopkins can’t help but see the benefit of coming out to Egegik and helping with his family’s business.

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“Some people hate it out there and I can understand why,” Hopkins said. “It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s something that I’ve come to enjoy and look forward to. It’s a good mental break.”

After a whole season of dominating 184-pound wrestlers on the mat and attending grad school classes, the last thing you would expect someone to do is to start a new season…unless it’s fishing season.



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