Living and working as a commercial fisherman breeds a countless number of stories, many of which could fill an entire book. Terry Evers did just that with his new memoir, Fifteen Seasons, which is all about the people and personalities that defined a commercial troll salmon fishery along the Central Oregon Coast from 1977-1991. It’s an especially personal account of the people, problems and adventures that comprised region and industry at the time, which begins in an unexpected way:
A school textbook salesman buys a commercial salmon dory boat and takes his thirteen-year-old son out on the cold Pacific Ocean waters off the Oregon Coast for an entire summer. What could possibly go wrong?
To get a sense of how the book answers that question, we talked with Evers about what drove the creation of the book, who this memoir is ultimately for, and much more.
National Fisherman: Your memoir is dedicated to your father, but was honoring his legacy the ultimate driver behind putting this book together?
Terry Evers: The tipping point for engaging in the project was to honor my father for the risk he took to enter the industry and open the door for countless experiences thereafter. However, the book project was something I considered for a number of years. I enjoyed keeping fish catch records, statistics, and journal entries when we fished. Dad and I talked about how I should do something with them a number of times. In the late 90s I was learning how to create webpages, and needing a topic, I chose dory fishing. Thus began the Dory Page, and the website gained a decent following. Later I migrated it to Facebook where it continues to run strong. That made me aware there was certainly an audience. I just needed the stars to align regarding time, publishing options, and improving my writing, in addition to my father’s passing. While the fishing and father-son relationship are integral parts, over time it was important to share Newport Bayfront culture of the 70s and how it gradually changed over time.
Will fishermen from places other than the Central Oregon Coast get something out of this book or are the stories and insights specifically relevant to people familiar with that area?
Yes! It has already happened. Via Facebook I’ve heard back from several people beyond the Oregon Coast. Some fishing and boating Facebook groups and discussion forums have been gracious enough to allow me to post about the book. There has been interest on the East Coast and all along the West Coast, especially among commercial fishermen in Alaska. One man from Minnesota has a dory, which is rare in that part of the country. It opened up some great dialogue as he enjoyed the book very much. I even had a person in Australia purchase the book!
Would you say this book is more about individual people, the commercial fishing industry as a whole or something else?
It’s certainly about the people and the industry. The dory fleet was composed of so many unique individuals who came together for a common bond in the summers. There were people such as teachers, construction workers, truck drivers, chemists, biologists, year-round fishermen, pharmacists who all found ways to dory fish. The industry changed so much from when we started until we ended. The book chronicles the changes that took place and how that related to our participation. Fifteen Seasons is also about a father-son relationship and how that grew, changed, and strengthened over time. A unique addition is the integration of music and how certain songs became benchmarks for each year we fished. An example would be how the songs “Silly Love Songs” by Paul McCartney and “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac were so much a part of the fabric either of the overall culture or as a personal experience. Each chapter contains a meaningful setlist of songs or albums.
Do you think this book could be utilized as a resource to compel interest with and from the next generation of commercial fisherman?
It certainly could. I distinctly remember browsing through a copy of National Fisherman in the late 70s in our trailer and reading about books such as “Pacific Troller” and “Alaska Blues.” These books certainly helped elevate my interest in the industry. While Fifteen Seasons mostly focuses on salmon trolling, there is a chapter about my work on a larger boat for crab, halibut, squid, and albacore tuna. For a person young or old who has fallen in love with the industry, reading about others’ experiences resonates within oneself.
What's one thing you'd tell a commercial fisherman about the reason they should have a copy of your book on their boat?
I think the book has wide appeal to fishermen. I've received several comments from people about how the book’s content has resonated with their own experiences. For some it’s been the fishing, but others have reflected on their own relationships, identifying with their connections to a fishing community, special people, and even fondly recalling the music during those years.
Fifteen Seasons: A Memoir is available now.