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2018 Annual Guide: Chatham

John Our Chatham

John Our. Photo by David Hills Photography

A day in the life of: John Our, fisherman, Chatham native and member of Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance

By Haley Cote

Fishing is a fickle industry. The fishing industry in Chatham—a town built on maritime enterprise—is no exception. In his nearly 40 years of fishing in Chatham, John Our has experienced the highs and the lows that have come with life as a fisherman in the town. The lows have taken a toll on Our, but his drive to continue fishing remains. After all, fishing is in his blood.

Our, 56, has spent his entire life in Chatham, and he and his wife, Jean Marie, have raised their two children here. “I’ve always loved Chatham,” he says. “Chatham is a small town. People try to help each other in the town—I see a tremendous amount of that.” His father was a lobsterman, and by age 5, he began accompanying his dad on fishing trips. “My mother wasn’t big on it,” he recalls, “but she made sure it was a good weather day for him to take me. I always went with him in the summers—when he was lobstering I was baiting the pots. My mother said I had a pair of hip boots when I was 5 and I wore them to bed, so she knew right then and there I was going to be a fisherman.”

School was never high on Our’s priority list. During classes, he says he would stare out the window, watching the trees blow and wondering whether his father was out fishing. As a teenager, Our spent every day after school quahoging, making between $40 and $100 a day.

“I knew I wasn’t going to do anything other than fishing,” he says. “After I graduated high school, I was fishing the next day with my father. We were gillnetting at the time, doing extremely well.” Our eventually got his own boat—the Miss Fitz—and crew, catching cod in the spring and summer months and Bluefin tuna and pollock in the fall. He remembers the joy of steaming around the ocean at 14 knots, catching a lot of fish and making a good living.

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