KENNEWICK -- Scott Campbell Jr. might live in Walla Walla, but he is right at home on storm tossed, icy seas.
He is captain of the Seabrook, one of the seven crab fishing boats featured on the Discovery Channel's Deadliest Catch. It's a reality show about the lives and fishing conditions aboard boats working the treacherous waters of the Bering Sea.
Campbell will be signing autographs at the Benton Franklin Fair & Rodeo from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. today and Saturday. Look for his customized Harley-Davidson motorcycle and race truck near the front gate. He will have Deadliest Catch T-shirts for sale and photos.
Ship captain might seem an unlikely career choice for someone who spent much of his youth in landlocked Walla Walla, until you find out his father also skippered a boat in the Bering Sea crab fishing fleet.
"We lived in Kodiak, Alaska, then," he said in a phone interview. "I was 10 when we moved down to Walla Walla to be closer to my grandparents. But I grew up around the industry. Summers, after I was 15, I spent on my dad's boat, then it was back to school for me."
Campbell climbed the wheelhouse ladder fast. When he was 24, Campbell was the relief skipper of his father's boat. His first command came in 1999, running the Amatuli during the opilio crab season. Later, he skippered the Vixen, Cape Caution, Lady Alaska and Arctic Lady, and in 2002, he and his father bought the Seabrook.
His father is retired, but Campbell, now 36, has no intention of staying on dry land any time soon.
"The money's too good, I won't lie about that. But fishing like we do is also very rewarding, if very physical and dangerous," he said.
All the years Campbell spent working the decks, he went relatively injury-free.
"I am missing part of one finger, but that happened after I got off deck, in my first season of running the Amatuli. All those years and nothing really bad happened until I got off deck; go figure," he said.
Campbell and his crew spend two to three months at a time aboard ship. Crabbing is their main source of income, while summers are spent fishing for salmon and Pacific cod. It's this diversity that keeps the Seabrook working nearly year round, he said.
It doesn't leave him much time to spend with his wife, Lisa, and two girls, Stormee, 16, and Trinidy, 11, who live in Walla Walla.
This past season of Deadliest Catch was the first for the crew of the Seabrook. Campbell said Discovery Channel approached him twice before but the filming and his fishing schedules didn't mesh.
"When they asked again this year, I figured we'd better say yes because I didn't think they'd ask again," he said.
Campbell said being a TV personality with a following of fans still "seems pretty weird. I'm just a good ol' boy. It's surreal when someone asks for an autograph or wants to have their photo taken with me. But it's pretty neat too."
Find out more about Deadliest Catch at http://bit.ly/wallawallacatch.
Campbell also is on Facebook: just search for Scott Campbell Jr., or follow him on Twitter at CaptScottJr.