Fresh Catches from Fisherman’s Wharf

Get to know the people behind the best seafood in the Bay Area. Here we spotlight the stories of our merchants on Fisherman’s Wharf.

Before they found fishing, Matt Juanes and Holly Fruehling were each frustrated with their jobs and looking for a change.

At 38, Juanes was fixing home appliances for money. He was living paycheck to paycheck and longed to do something he actually loved.

Fruehling was putting her MBA to use working in business consulting. But the stress of the job left her chronically anxious.

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Matt Juanes, crab fisherman, giving a tour of the wharf (credit: Angeline T.)

Finding Passion at Sea

Fed up with the way he was living, Juanes took a leap of faith and quit his job fixing appliances to pursue his childhood hobby: fishing. With what little money he had, he purchased a small 18-footer boat and set out to sea all on his own. After two years, the self-taught fisherman accepted an apprenticeship working as a deckhand on a larger boat.

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Holly sizing up the crabs for a customer (credit: Angeline T.)

After twelve years in investment consulting, Fruehling was ready for something new. As wild as it seemed, it just so happened that becoming a fisherwoman was kismet for her. She fell in love with a fisherman and consequently, fishing. Fruehling spent five and a half years serving as a deckhand to her boyfriend, Savior, before finally owning and running her own boat in September 2021.

Fruehling began her inaugural season as a crab captain in December 2021. Today, both Holly and Matt hold their own as crab fishermen in San Francisco.

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Matt working on his boat at the wharf (credit: Angeline T.)

Juanes credits his tenacity and grit for transforming his life and allowing him to turn a hobby into a career. While Fruehling never expected to become the first female crab captain in San Francisco, she is grateful for her path. Nowadays, she doesn’t experience the same work-related anxiety. At sea, things are peaceful and calming. “It’s a simple yet meaningful life,” she said.

Reviving Fisherman’s Wharf

Although they come from vastly different backgrounds, Juanes and Fruehling share a common vision: to bring back the charming, bustling San Francisco wharf of the past.

Before it was a tourist shopping center, the wharf really did belong to fishermen. Chinese and Italian immigrants made their livings there selling fish and crab. The Italian fishermen served crab dishes out of their homes long before restaurants appeared on the wharf.

Juanes and Fruehling want to be part of a whole community of fishermen selling their catches directly off their boats to a lively crowd. After all, it is the place to get the best seafood in the Bay Area.

“The wharf used to be a gem of San Francisco,” Juanes said. He and Fruehling believe reviving the fishing market will make the wharf a Bay Area icon once more. And slowly but surely, they’ve been working towards that goal. When crab season begins, the two of them sell fresh crabs to eager customers waiting on the docks.

The best seafood in the Bay Area online

With the help of Airmart, they have also been able to accept pre-orders and even offer local Bay Area delivery. The fishermen sell their crabs at an affordable price that competes with local grocery stores like Safeway, Whole Foods and Bi-Rite.

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Fresh Dungeness Crab from Fishermen’s Wharf in San Francisco (credit: Angeline T.)

“Fishing is a huge part of San Francisco,” Fruehling said. “We need to get people interested in the industry again.”

She believes fishing has had a bad rap, and would like to use her marketing background to change that. One of the misconceptions about crabbing is that it harms the whales and the environment. In reality, fishing operations at the wharf are easier on the ecosystem, especially when compared to commercial fishing. Juanes and Fruehling use sustainable practices, such as only keeping male crabs and tossing back crabs that measure less than 6.25 inches across. After all, Holly herself is an animal lover who cares deeply about the ocean and the creatures that inhabit it.

Now that you’ve read all about the fishermen of the wharf, you can purchase the best seafood in the San Francisco Bay Area from Matt, Holly, and other Airmart shops: