Fisherman Steve “Winks” Lodholm displays a very large live Dungeness crab lifted from controlled temperature tanks at his home on the Key Peninsula where he markets them to eager customers as well as at the Winks Seafood shop in Purdy. Photo by Hugh McMillan

Over the past two years brightly colored hand printed signs advertising “live crab,” “cooked crab,” “fresh Alaska caught halibut,” and other seafood products have pointed potential customers to the home and seafood outlet of fisherman Steve “Wink” Lodholm. He now sells fresh seafood at his store, Winks Seafood shop in Purdy.

Lodholm, a 1980 graduate of Peninsula High School, began his fishing career on a commercial boat in Alaska after he got out of the military.

“Since I have been fishing and selling to the docks for 28 years, I am able to comfortably go to the docks to sell my fish as a fisherman, or buy fish there as a retailer. Along the way I gained the nickname of ‘Wink.’ The crew said I could negotiate a sale anywhere on any dock just like Wink Martindale (a TV game show host) and the name stuck.” From Alaska to Mexico, Lodholm has been in the commercial fishing business, and had many adventures. His first job was on a 54-foot commercial longliner the FV “Daily.”

“Immediately I start the long and tedious job of baiting hooks and stacking gear for an upcoming halibut opening,” said Lodholm. “The captain was a one eyed nearsighted German with a bad accent and Napoleon complex. He was tough and exact. He fired at least one crewmember at the end of each trip.” Fishing is his life and has taken Lodholm from the Bering Sea in Alaska to south of Baja Mexico and back, with many more exciting stories.

After a few years in Mexico, he said he realized the corruption and payoffs far exceeded the benefits and profit of fishing there, so he went back to Alaska. “I ran several different boats and worked my way down the coast and worked during the Oregon Dungeness crab season captaining the FV ‘Star Gavin,’ a 58-foot crabber navigating the Garibaldi and Columbia bar hundreds of times.”

The price of fuel spiked and very soon selling product at the dock was not cost effective. Lodholm had to find a way to continue the fishing operation while maintaining cost-effectiveness. He tried selling cooked crab out of the back of his truck in Portland in areas where there were a lot of tourists. Business was minimal.

“Out of desperation,” he said, “I took 500 pounds of cooked crab from the dock in Oregon to my home on the Key Peninsula area off Highway 302 at 118th Street.”

His A-board signs led customers for five miles to the fresh seafood.

“Sometimes I would come home from the boat and people would be five cars deep in the driveway waiting for the day’s catch,” he said. “We soon realized that many customers wanted to buy live crab, so I began to research and developed a live-tank system, which can house and maintain healthy crab for months at a time.

“Currently I have a system at my home which can hold over eight thousand pounds of live crab,” said Lodholm. “Because this system can hold so much, we can fish it ourselves or we can remembered a seafood store called the Crab Pot located on the Purdy Spit. “I decided that this would be a great place to continue the tradition,” he said. “The Crab Pot had passed through several hands and became a coffee stand. “I rented the land on the North End of NAPA Autoparts. Located on the water, the location is perfect; I could even have fishermen deliver their fresh product directly to my store from their boats on high tide.” Throughout the year, there are different species harvested at different times Lodholm explained, adding, “Winks is able to get the biggest and bestof those species directly from the boat within hours of capture even if the product was caught all the way up in the Bering Sea. “To our knowledge,” he said, “the only place close to this concept is in Pike Place Market in Seattle.”

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