Written by Linc Bedrosian
April 13, 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."
Sperl, 68, who fishes for salmon, halibut and shrimp on his wooden 58-footer, the Saga, caught the fishing fever as a youngster. On the book's back cover, Larry Lindstrom tells a story that illustrates how the fever still grips Sperl, whom we profile in the upcoming June issue of NF.
Lindstrom writes that once in the middle of a shrimp trawl, he asked Sperl if the excitement and anticipation of pulling in a net full of shrimp or hauling in a line full of salmon or halibut ever lessens with time.
"As we awaited the beam trawl to break the surface," Lindstrom writes, "he said, 'It might, but I have only been doing this for 50 years, so I'm not sure.' (His huge smile and pumping fist when he saw a good haul of shrimp in the net, proved that 50 years of experiences did not dampen his enthusiasm.)"
I'm betting all commercial fishermen can relate. Ultimately, Sperl's stories and poems illustrate the concept of loving what you do. You become so completely absorbed in what you're doing, hours pass and you hardly notice. And like Dennis Sperl, commercial fishermen are truly, fully, madly, deeply in love with their craft.
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