Cover image for Out on the deep blue : women, men, and the oceans they fish
Out on the deep blue : women, men, and the oceans they fish
Fields, Leslie Leyland, 1957-
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Thomas Dunne Books, [2001]

Physical Description:
xii, 352 pages ; 22 cm
Subject Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
SH331.2 .O88 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



This is the first collection of dramatic, first-person accounts of commercial fishing written by the men and women who work in the nation's most dangerous occupation. Nineteen diverse fisher-writers, from the famous to the unknown, take the reader swordfish harpooning on the Georges Banks, winter crabbing in the Bering Sea, sea-urchin diving off Maine, herring fishing in Alaska, shark-harpooning off Scotland and points between. Together, they plumb the extremes of living, working, and sometimes dying at sea, creating the most intensely personal portrait of fishing and fishermen to date.

The best writing on commercial fishing is gathered here, blending the voices of such well-known writers as Peter Mathiessen, Gavin Maxwell, Linda Greenlaw, Spike Walker, and John Cole, together with experienced and emerging writers, many of whom have spent much of their lives on the water. With its layers and rich textures, this collection will have strong, enduring appeal to loves of nonfiction.


Marie Beaver
John Cole
Michael Crowley
Wendy Erd
Leslie Leyland Fields
Robert Fritchey
Joel Gay
Linda Greenlaw
Seth Harkness
Nancy Lord
Peter Mathiessen
Gavin Maxwell
William McCloskey
Paul Molyneaux
Debra Nielsen
Toby Sullivan
Martha Sutro
Joe Upton
Spike Walker

Author Notes

Since 1978, Leslie Leyland Fields has followed the schools of ready-to-spawn fish out to a remote island where she and her husband fish commercially for salmon. With five children, ranging in ages from thirteen to six months, the island now has a population of seven.

Her essays have recently appeared in The Atlantic, Orion, The Christian Science Monitor, Experiencing Nature: A Creative Nonfiction Reader, The Best of Oregon Quarterly, and others. She is the recent winner of the Virginia Faulkner award for excellence in writing.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Here are 19 essays, all of them written by men and women who make their living on the water. Some of them are well-known writers--Peter Mathiessen is here; so is William McCloskey--but many are journeymen, still learning this particular craft. But they all share one thing: an understanding of what it takes to be a commercial fisherman. Like Highliners, McCloskey's marvelous 1979 novel about commercial fishing, these true stories concern men and women forced to face one of life's toughest facts: your way of life is in serious danger. Putting out to sea for these folks isn't like going to the office, and catching fish (or crabs or urchins or sharks) isn't a hobby. It's putting food on the table, and in some cases, it's all they know. Although the quality of the prose in these essays may vary, their impact does not: we gain a deeper understanding of the life of the commercial fisherman. For readers interested in that topic, especially those who liked The Perfect Storm, it is sure to satisfy. --David Pitt

Library Journal Review

Fields (English, Univ. of Alaska; The Entangling Net: Alaska's Commercial Fishing Women Tell Their Lives) gathers 19 first-person accounts by people who fish, some of them also well-known writers (e.g., Peter Mathiessen and Linda Greenlaw). While some of the vignettes concern working with or for sports fishermen, many others deal with the business of fishing, covering areas from the U.S. coastline to remote locations such as the Barents Sea. Ocean fishing is inherently dangerous, as the oceans themselves are changeable and often threatening. Each account conveys this danger to the reader but at the same time expresses the writer's respect and love for the ocean. The collection is pulled together by Fields's insightful introduction. While not a sports book exactly, this collection will be of interest to people who fish as well as to those who enjoy stories of adventure at sea. Recommended for public libraries. William Scheeren, Hempfield Area H.S. Lib., Greensburg, PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Leslie Leyland FieldsMarie BeaverJohn ColeMichael CrowleyWendy ErdLeslie Leyland FieldsRobert FritcheyJoel GayLinda GreenlawSeth HarknessNancy LordPeter MatthiessenGavin MaxwellWilliam McCloskeyPaul MolyneauxDebra NielsenToby SullivanMartha SutroJoe UptonSpike Walker
Introductionp. vii
Staying Afloatp. 1
Striperp. 23
Greenhornp. 35
Pieces of the Windp. 51
Hurled to the Sharkp. 65
Climbing the Ladderp. 83
Payin' Your Dues in Togiakp. 95
Mug-Upp. 105
Working Below the Waterlinep. 115
A Day in the Lifep. 139
Under Montauk Lightp. 161
The First Killp. 177
Asking for itp. 193
Swordfishp. 213
Catch and Releasep. 235
Out West: Notes from the Bering Seap. 253
Cashing Out on the Bering Seap. 273
The Long Road Homep. 305
Nights of Icep. 321
Contributorsp. 349