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John Russo 1913-2002

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.

Twelve fishermen including myself got together in 1939 and had the Little Flower, a purse seiner, built. I sold my share in the Little Flower in 1941 and with two partners, Tom DiMaggio and Raoul Bruno, bought the Star of Monterey. I captained the Star of Monterey with a crew of 12 men. We fished for sardines, mackerel, anchovies, tuna and squid until the boat was sold in 1965. We unloaded our fish at the Hovden Cannery which is now the sight of the Monterey Bay Aquarium. During World War II the federal government used the Star of Monterey to patrol the California coastline. During that time, we chartered a boat from Seattle, the Fairfax. During the off-season when not fishing off the California Coast from 1952 until 1978, I fished for Salmon in Bristol Bay Alaska.

Picture of boat owners Star of Monterey
L to R - Roual Bruno, John Russo, Tom Dimaggio, Antonneite DiMaggio, Sarah Russo, Mary Bruno owners of the Start of Monterey Purse Seiner.

Picture of fishing boat Star of Monterey
The Star of Monterey

The Star of Monterey was sold in 1965. The buyers planned to fish king crab in Alaska. After selling the boat I captained the purse seiner, Sea Romeo and fished anchovies and squid until 1983. Until recently, I fished for herring with gill net in San Francisco and occasionally still trawl for Salmon in Monterey Bay with my son.

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