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Jim Simpson OVERALL HIGHLINER OF THE YEAR at the Commercial Fishermen’s Festival 2012

Jim with his trophies and one of a kind, custom
engraved medallion designed by Holly McHone Jewelry
in Astoria

63-year old Captain Jim Simpson takes the title with a perfect score.

By Liz McMaster
Fri, 14 Sep 2012

Hammond, Oregon - Every year, the Captain Phil Harris Highliner Competition is held in conjunction with the Commercial Fishermen’s Festival. The 2012 Commercial Fishermen’s Festival was held in Hammond, Oregon September 8 & 9. Fishermen arrive from California, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska to size up the competition and exhibit their prowess before an audience of their peers. While it might take a real fisherman to appreciate a perfect web sewing technique or a spotless crab line splice, the audience of onlookers will all gain respect for the physical efforts and skills displayed within the competition.
Jim Simpson (left), 63 Overall Highliner of the Year and Highliner 40 & Over with the 40& Under Highliner winner, Kenneth McMaster, 23
Jim’s win is notable for many reasons: Jim is the first 40 & Over competitor to be named Overall Highliner of the Year, and Jim’s performance yielded the first ever PERFECT SCORE within the list of tasks to be completed. Jim’s age exceeds the age of this year’s 40 & Under winner by exactly 40 years!
Jim with his son Ryan Simpson, second place finisher in the competition
The Captain Phil Harris Highliner Competition is designed to be daunting with its varied and grueling list of jobs, from stacking 7 Dungeness Crab pots as quickly and neatly as possible, to mending nets, tying knots, entering a survival suit and hauling a 180 lb. dummy aboard an inflated life raft. The competition is over after chugging a “beer” or root beer. Average completion times are ten minutes, with a fast run coming in around six. Speed isn’t the only factor, with the points from each task a heavy consideration.

Jim Simpson is 63 and hails from Surprise, Arizona. He is currently the captain of a processing vessel Ocean Fresh based out of Petersburg, Alaska. Jim is the father of five sons. He got his start in the fishing industry by camping out in a gravel pit in Dutch Harbor in December of 1969. He has fished the Bering Sea out of Dutch Harbor, Kodiak, Prince William Sound, Cook Inlet, Alaska Peninsula, Port Moller, and Bering River. Jim has owned several fishing boats over the years, the last of which was the “Westward” a family operated vessel. The five boys were raised on the boat.

the coveted Highliner of the Year medallion, given only for the Overall winner.  for the first time ever in the history of CFF, this medallion goes to a 40 & Over competitor
Jim married Lorri Andrich in 1980. They have five sons, one owns his own business, one is a hardhat diver on “Diving For Diamonds” TV show. Three of his sons are still employed in the commercial fishing industry. Two of Jim’s sons fish aboard the Bering Sea crab boat F/V Handler and Ryan is on the F/V Time Bandit featured on the Discovery Channel’s show “ Deadliest Catch.”

When asked if and when he will retire from fishing, Jim says, “My retirement plan involves staying healthy enough to surf when I’m 90.”

For his efforts, Jim took home two trophies (Over 40 and Overall), $1000 cash, Grunden’s gear and a one of a kind engraved medal designed by Holly McHone Jewelry of Astoria. The Captain Phil Harris Highliner Competition is sponsored by Grunden’s, Holly McHone, Englund Marine.

For more information:

Commercial Fishermen’s Festival PO Box 154 Astoria, Oregon 97103 503-791-8703 or