My fishing career started at the age of 13 in Pittsburg, California where I was born. During vacations from school I fished with my father, Anthony Russo, for salmon and shad on the San Joaquin River. At the age of 17, my brother Salvatore “Sheik" Russo told me that he had a job for me in Monterey fishing for sardines on Sal Ventimiglia's boat, Santa Anna.
In Monterey we used the lampara net for fishing the sardines. We then towed a barge and put the fish we caught on the barge. The fish were unloaded at the Monterey Cannery in a bucket that was transported to and from the cannery on a cable. In 1930 we chartered the purse seiner, Sonny Boy, to fish for sardines and from 1931 to 1932, we charted the purse seiner Lucky Star. The Yugoslavia was chartered in 1933 and in 1935 the Senorita. In 1936 I fished with Sal Russo on the Olympic. I fished for tuna in Mexico in 1938 aboard the Sea Giant.