I commercial fished in Alaska for a few years in the late 1980s, and never really got over it. It was an exciting and humbling experience – at the mercy of tides and weather, floating islands of seaweed, rain by the foot, sleep deprivation, wet socks, constant gear repairs, other fishermen, bears. Here are a few tales of the salty sea and the fish within that give a taste of the occupation.
Red Summer: The Danger, Excitement, and Exaltation of Salmon Fishing in a Remote Alaskan Village by Bill Carter
Set-net fishing is one of the most exhilarating and dangerous jobs in the world. Deadliest Catch takes a back seat to this ancient, back-breaking work. Author Bill Carter tells the story of his four glorious summers in Egegik on Bristol Bay.
The King of Fish: The Thousand-year Run of Salmon by David R Montgomery
UW professor and geologist David Montgomery focuses on the Pacific Northwest in this study of the rise and fall of the salmon. No longer the land of plenty salmon, he has some provocative and passionate recommendations for the land, water and fish of our region.
Rapture of the Deep: The Art of Ray Troll
Nobody does it better when it comes to fish art. This volume collects some of Troll’s best loved art and makes powerful connections between past and present. Fish worship – is it wrong? Not in this book.
Catching the Ebb: Drift Fishing for a Life in Cook Inlet by Bert Bender
Literature professor Bender spent 30 years fishing for salmon in Alaska, and recounts here the glories of the fishing life and the sea. Peter Matthiessen praises the book as “well written and always absorbing.” Seattle artist/author Tony Angell (In the Company of Crows and Ravens) lends his artistry.
Tuna: A Love Story by Richard Ellis
Faster than a speeding bullet (looks like one too), more powerful than a locomotive (zero to 55 in an instant), able to swim long distances (California to Japan and back). Beautiful, highly evolved, and overfished, Ellis’s book will have you thinking twice before you order your next sushi.