In Mixed Catch, NF Senior Editor Linc Bedrosian spotlights a wide range of commercial fishing-related news items from coast to coast.
Tuesday, 22 April 2014
Man Plans, God Laughs
By Nat Goodale
Bowditch Press, 2013
Softcover, 242 pp., $14.99
When I think of Donny Coombs, a fifth generation Maine lobsterman who's the hero of "Vacationland," the immortal words of Popeye the Sailor Man, pop into my head — "That's all I can stands, I can't stands no more!"
It will take him awhile to get to that point, though. Coombs is pretty much an independent live-and-let-live kind of guy. He's largely content to go lobstering, accompanied by his ornery, territorial, yet faithful and loyal dog, Tut.
However, Coombs' placid life is about to become more stressful on several fronts.
First there are his new neighbors, Delano and Eliza Nelson. The Nelsons are, as Mainers say, From Away. And the missus in particular is hell-bent on, as Goodale puts it on his website, "saving Maine from the Mainers."
Job one in this quest is getting Coombs to remove some items they deem unsightly from his yard. Thus begins what will blossom into an increasingly ugly battle between the two neighbors.
Then there's Shelly Payson, an attractive junior at Harvard, where she's an outstanding member of the crew team. Shelly's impetuous, and like her well-to-do father, Chase, used to getting her way. She's attracted to Coombs, which displeases daddy greatly. His mission is to kill the growing relationship between Coombs and his daughter.
And last, but certainly not least, there's lobsterman Stanley Maven, who covets Coombs' territory. He ignores signs to back off and becomes increasingly bold about setting traps where Coombs fishes.
All of these battles get ratcheted up to a fever pitch. And when Coombs reaches his Popeye-esque breaking point, things get very ugly indeed.
Goodale's crafted a fast-paced page-turner, filled with strongly drawn characters. At first, I was disappointed in the ending. I suspect I'm too used to watching movies where Hollywood wraps everything up neatly to send us smiling out of the theater.
But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it really rang true. When it's all said and done, "Vacationland" proves to be a highly entertaining story that's well-worth reading.Add a comment
Tuesday, 11 March 2014
From Hooks to Harpoons
...the Story of Santa Barbara Channel Fisheries
By Mick Kronman
Santa Barbara Maritime Museum, 2013
Softcover, 261 pp., $24.95
When we embarked on producing North Pacific Focus, a Pilothouse Guide-inspired supplement for Alaska and West Coast readers that mailed with our April issue, we decided it'd be a good idea to profile fishing ports in the region. Conveniently, I'd just finished reading "From Hooks to Harpoons: the Story of Santa Barbara Channel Fisheries," which led me to profile Santa Barbara in the Winter 2014 issue of NPF.
The book's author, Mick Kronman, was a great source for the story. Kronman, 65, has been the city's harbor operations manager for 14 years. He's also a former commercial fisherman and he served as NF's Pacific bureau chief for a number of years.
He also proves to be the right guy to tell the story of the city's fishing history. The Santa Barbara Maritime Museum asked Kronman to chronicle the port's fishing heritage, which dates back to the 1850s.
"The maritime museum wanted me to write 10,000 words," Kronman says. So he dived into his research.
As part of his research, he poured over the museum's voluminous collection of photos of local fishermen and boats that defined eras past. And Marla Daily, president of the Santa Cruz Island Foundation, gave Kronman access to her file archives, which contained letters, narratives, newspaper accounts and other data about the city's fishing past.
Eventually, Kronman's original 10,000 words would blossom into 75,000. Alas, his manuscript grew dusty sitting on the shelves for several years as the museum went through some changes.
But eventually museum officials realized it needed to be a book. His work made it into publication last fall, some 13 years after the project began.
Happily, the book is well worth the wait. It's an entertaining history of Santa Barbara's fishing history, told via the five gear types used in the various fisheries.
"I thought the only way I could get my mind and ability around the project was to break the story into gear groups," Kronman says.
The gear types that Santa Barbara fishermen still use today date back some 3,000 years to when Chumash Native Americans used early forms of nets, harpoons, hooks, traps and dive gear. Those gear types have helped local fishermen catch a wide variety of fish and shellfish, including spiny lobster, rock crab, ridgeback and spot prawns, squid, rockfish, swordfish, halibut, blackcod, sea cucumbers, abalone and sea urchins.
Kronman looks at not only the development of each gear type, but at the fisheries that spawned from them, and the people who helped them grow. The book is filled with anecdotes about the port's commercial fisheries and loaded with photos from the past and present.
"From Hooks to Harpoons" is an engaging and informative look at Santa Barbara's commercial fishing history. But I think the book may say as much about Kronman's affection for the city's fishing industry. And that affection shines through "From Hooks to Harpoons," separating it from garden-variety history books. You don't have to be a Santa Barbara fisherman to appreciate that.
Thursday, 05 December 2013
By William B. McCloskey Jr.
Skyhorse Publishing, 2013
Hardcover, 400 pp., $24.95
You'll get a taste of "Warriors," the prequel to William B. McCloskey's previous novels "Highliners," "Brokers" and "Raiders" in our January issue. The "Warriors" excerpt that begins on page 26 focuses on fishing in the early days of Alaska's king crab fishery. But the novel is about much more than that.
The "Highliners" trilogy focuses on the story of Hank Crawford's journey from green cannery hand to respected fishing captain in Alaska, a tale that spans from the early 1960s to the mid-1980s. Three important characters who appear in the three novels return as the main characters in "Warriors."
Crawford's future mentor, Marine Sgt. Jones Henry, Japanese officer Kiyoshi Tsurifune, and anti-German Resistance fighter Swede Scorden struggle to return to a normal life after World War II. Each man is wrestling with all they've endured during the war and want nothing more than to return to the fishing life.
For Jones, that means returning to Ketchikan, Alaska, to fish for salmon and king crab. Swede, too, settles in Ketchikan where he throws himself into work at a cannery, eventually becoming an executive. Kiyoshi returns to his family, trying to deal with the lost honor of his country's defeat, eventually helping his local fishermen get back on the water and becoming a seafood buyer. The three men's paths cross throughout the book, as Kiyoshi eventually becomes an ambassador for the Japanese trade.
But the fishing world is changing. Engines are replacing the sails on fishing boats that Jones and other fishermen have relied upon for years. A new union calls a strike during the height of salmon season. And an impending deal to allow the Japanese to fish Alaska waters angers many Alaska fishermen for whom memories of the war against Japan are all too fresh.
Each character's perspective on the war is enlightening. The passages about life in post-war Japan are compelling. So are those in which Jones wrestles with his war experiences; Jones just wants to fish and be left alone, and not have to think about what he saw in the war.
Against the backdrop of the changes in their lives and Alaska's fishing industry, each man must find a way to make peace with what they've experienced and with the changes coming to the burgeoning Alaska fisheries. All in all "Warriors" proves to be a worthy addition to the "Highliner" novels.
Tuesday, 15 October 2013
Four Thousand Hooks
A True Story of Fishing and Coming of Age on the High Seas of Alaska
By Dean Adams
University of Washington Press, 2012
Softcover, 270 pp., $16.95
One of the neat things about Pacific Marine Expo in Seattle is the Author's Corner and Bookstore, where you can get your mitts on a wide range of books about fishing. Plus there's seating and a special section for book signings, discussions and more.
It's easy to see why Dean Adam's book "Four Thousand Hooks" was featured at Pacific Marine Expo last year. Want to find out what's on tap in the Author's Corner this year? Just click here and scroll down for the 2013 show's lineup.
Thursday, 18 April 2013
By Roderick Haig-Brown
Harbour Publishing, 1948
Softcover, 240 pp., $14.95
You will forgive me if I'm mildly puzzled as to why "Saltwater Summer" is classified as "juvenile fiction." What we have here is a story about fishing, plain and simple. Nowhere in this book appear any vampires, werewolves, zombies, dragons or sorcerers of any kind, which would seem an immediate disqualification for being labeled as teen fiction, or at least what passes for it these days.
Thursday, 21 February 2013
East of the Hague Line
By Gordon Holmes
Trafford Publishing, 2012
676 pp., hardcover, $35.44; softcover, $25.44; e-book, $3.99
There isn't a lot of down time on a fishing boat at sea, so it may take a fisherman some time to get through the more than 600 pages that make up Gordon Holmes' novel "East of the Hague Line." The good news is it's worth taking that time.
Thursday, 06 December 2012
Nathan and the Stone Crabs
By J.B. Crawford
Softcover, 216 pp., $12.95
"Stone crabs is the onliest things in the ocean that a man can take out, harvest, return to the water and then come back to harvest again," writes J.B. Crawford in his novel "Nathan and the Stone Crabs." "Stone crabs, they live on. Come back to fight another day."
Friday, 19 October 2012
St. Joseph and the Sea
Fishermen, Faith and Redemption by the Ocean
By Daniel Chiasson
Softcover, 206 pp., $8.99
It's one thing for a person to figure out what they'd like to do for a living. It's another to figure out who they are, and what kind of a person they want to be.
And if they are so fortunate as to develop concrete answers to those Big Questions, there's still the matter of taking action to fulfill those desires. That's no small task.
Friday, 13 April 2012
Living to Fish, Fishing to Live
Life and Trials of Fishing Fever in Alaska
By Dennis Sperl
Ensign Group International, 2011
Softcover, 404 pp., $12.95
Exploring the 'fishing fever' phenomenon
"This book tries to explain the fishing fever phenomenon by examples of how the infection gets into one's blood," writes Dennis Sperl, a Petersburg, Alaska, fisherman in "Living to Fish, Fishing to Live". His book's stories and poems, Sperl writes, offer examples of "a life-long affliction that has no cure."
Friday, 30 December 2011
True Stories from Matinicus, Maine
By Crash Barry
Maine Misadventures, 2011
Hardcover, 130 pp., $18.00
Author’s stint as sternman on Maine’s Matinicus Island turns a wanderer into a writer
Only the folks who live and fish on Matinicus Island really know what the remote Maine island, located 20 miles out to sea, is like. Maine author Crash Barry doesn’t claim to be a Matinicus expert. But “Tough Island,” his memoir on the two years he spent there working as a lobster boat sternman offers one man’s view of what life there was like. Add a comment
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National Fisherman Live: 7/17/14
In this episode, National Fisherman's Boats & Gear Editor Michael Crowley talks with Mike Hillers about the Simrad PX Multisensor.
National Fisherman Live: 7/8/14
In this episode: