WA Octopus Fisher’s Fair Dinkum, Delicious WA Seafood Treats
Raymond Ralph is a man of all sorts – an entrepreneur but prior to that a farmer, and even a fisher. It is his love of the outdoors – being present in nature’s wilderness – that he said was his calling in life.
“I first started out as a farmer then moved to Kalbarri where I got a cray fishing job as a deckhand – I did that for eleven years.”
“Then about 6 years ago, my mum passed away, on Christmas day, from cancer. She had been fighting it for one and a half years. Five weeks later my farther-in-law passed from the same disease. It was a lot to take in at the time for my family including my wife and my two young kids. My mother and father-in-law both respectively taught us the value of hard-work – they were the hardest workers that I have met.”
“We received a small amount of money and were thinking of travelling before the opportunity to purchase an octopus boat and pots came up. It was like it was an omen. It just felt like it was meant to be. Travelling has been put on hold ever since.”
Raymond said that he used to come home from the cray boat then jump in the car to drive to pull the octopus pots.
“The days used to be big,” he chuckled.
“I started early in the morning doing the cray fishing, then came home around 2pm to drive to pull up the octopus pots.”
“But I loved the challenge!”
Starting out as an octopus fisherman, meant learning the ropes and finding out the hard-way where the octopus are hidden.
“When we first started out – we would pull in about 10kg of octopus a week – because they just weren’t around. We then decided to jump ship and move our boat location to Port Gregory to catch them there.”
“My two deckhands and I have since moved and are now located in Leeman where we can catch up to half-a-tonne each week.”
Raymond said that he and his family are based in Mandurah, but the boat is in Leeman – meaning a four-hour drive to go to work.
“We drive up a couple of times a week. We are very committed to ensuring that our customers have access to fresh WA octopus.
“We fish deep water – usually 20-25 fathoms – which is unusual to other octopus fishers who usually work around the 7 -16 fathoms mark.”
Raymond and his deckhands usually start at mid-night and finish at 10am in the morning, pulling up between 400-600 pots.
“The hardest factor for us is the weather. We are dependent.”
“Last year we had a couple of bad days – so we faced 22-hour days just to get the job done and the gear pulled.”
Three years ago, Raymond and his partner invested in a seafood van calling it ‘Ralphy’s Ocean Treats’ where they only sell fresh fish and marinated WA seafood to customers.
“We only catch and sell fresh, local seafood. We don’t purchase imported seafood and we don’t have a big profit margin because we want our customers coming back. Got to keep those customers happy!”
“Next in line for us, is to expand. We are in the process of looking for a retail store, so we can focus on catering and for customers to walk-in and have a feed of our marinade.”
“The seafood van was originally located at the Mandurah Markets, but we decided to move to the Manning Farmer markets almost 2 years ago. We only had a few customers when we first started, now we sell out every weekend.”
The couple are known for their 500-gram jars of delicious, fresh marinated Western Australian Prawns, Octopus, Squid and Sardines.
“We also sell fresh fish. I catch a small amount of fish on the boat and the rest we purchase from the Canning Vale Markets.”
“Popular species that we sell include wild caught Barramundi from Northern WA, Red Emperor, Gold Band Snapper, Pink Snapper, Dhufish.”
“My wife has also just started her own pickling.”
He laughed, “it’s my wife’s secret recipe, she won’t tell me what she puts in it! We have been trialling it for 4 weeks – and they have been a sell-out.”
Raymond says that they are now also catering for Mandurah Cruises serving a buffet which includes Mandurah Blue Swimmer Crabs, Oysters, Prawns, Octopus and their Yummy Seafood Skewers.
“The tourists love our seafood! It flies like hot cakes.”
Raymond said that his family has faced the highs – and the lows. Often, he had to work long hours, whilst the young family faced the uncertainty of money. But he said that things are looking up and he wants to ensure that his customers get the very best WA seafood can offer.
“We have done everything on our own. No-one was there to help us out. There were times there when there wasn’t much money coming in where we had to work 3 jobs to pay the the boat and keep it running.”
“But we are getting there… slowly. Yes, we have had to work hard to get to this point, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
“Our work ethic comes from my late mum and father-in-law. They both had worked so hard to give us a life worth living and were the greatest role models. That is what is keeping me going – I want to be the best role model I can be for my kids.”
Concluding, Raymond said that he has always had a love for fishing and wants to share his passion for the deep blue and love of WA seafood with his customers.
“I love fishing – I have always loved fishing. Even when I was farming – I was always hanging out to go fishing. It is in my blood.”
“All I want is to ensure that our customers get the best that Western Australian seafood has to offer and know how lucky – we all are – to be able to enjoy some of the best in the world.”
To purchase delicious seafood indulgences from ‘Ralphy’s Ocean Treats’ – you can catch the young family at the Farmers markets in Manning on Saturday Mornings. They have also just branched into catering local seafood at parties or special events.