One forward, ten back
By Jessica Hathaway
The April Yearbook issue is a National Fisherman tradition that dates back some 50 years. We indulge in looking over our shoulders at the last year in fishing news. We keep an eye out for trends, the big stories, and the people who made headlines for good deeds or otherwise...
We spend a lot of time in the stacks, poring over back issues, bound volumes of yellowed newsprint, delicately turning pages. I love the access I have to information online, but nothing compares to the quiet in your mind that seeps in with the turn of each printed page. There are no tabs, no video ads, no email alerts popping up to pull you away.
Ten years ago, we were still a full year away from the first iPhone, and I was wrapping up my first issue as a member of the staff of National Fisherman. Jerry Fraser had taken a chance on me, and I was eager to tackle the ins and outs of fishing boats. I knew working waterfronts. I knew workboats, sailboats, bow from stern. But what I didn’t know then was that I would fall in love with the people who run those boats and the families who keep this industry running. In the coming months and years, I would learn more about gear, fish, fish politics and fish behavior than I ever imagined. And I never thought I would be sitting in this captain’s chair.
My work here has changed the course of my life, as any significant amount of dedicated time will do. And yet, 10 years is just a moment in the evolution of this ancient industry. When I looked at Fishing Back When and recognized the cover photo from April 2006 as the first issue I worked on, I started to think about everything that’s happened here in the last decade. It seems so appropriate that my first issue would be the Yearbook issue. I mark my anniversary here every year by putting things into perspective, making a timeline of the last year. The Yearbook section begins on page 22.
This is also the issue for which Boats & Gear Editor Michael Crowley gets in the way-back machine and delivers us tales of boatyards long ago. Few things serve as a better reminder of our fishing heritage as historic towns named after fisheries and the founders of those fisheries. The remarkable menhaden fishery of Reedville, Va., was founded by Elijah Warren Reed (a migrated Mainer) during Reconstruction. It goes to show you that out of even the most difficult situation there arises an opportunity. Read Larry Chowning’s profile of a Reedville yard and two others from Michael Crowley and David Peterson beginning on page 40.
That’s just a taste of what you’ll find in this issue. There’s some looking back, but always also looking forward. I hope you can find a quiet place to turn the pages, even if that’s your own captain’s chair on top of a rumbling diesel.