In this Book

Catching the Ebb
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summary
Bert Bender started fishing Alaska’s Cook Inlet in 1963 with a thirty-foot sailboat converted to gas power and with no equipment for pulling in a net. Catching the Ebb recounts his thirty summers of gill-netting for salmon and describes his parallel career as a professor of American literature. Drawing on his academic specialties—American sea literature and the influence of evolutionary biology and ecology in American writing—Bender celebrates the fishing life and traces the fishery’s path of change, from shifts in the market and the demise of canneries to the effects of the Exxon Valdez disaster of 1989 to the rise of the farmed salmon industry.

Catching the Ebb will appeal to readers interested in Alaska, the sea, and the fishing life. In addition to its stories of people, boats, and fish, Bender’s compelling memoir addresses the critical question: Can we restrain our heedless pollution of the sea and avoid depleting ocean resources?

“That Catching the Ebb is written by a lifelong literary critic and writer who is also a professional commercial fisherman is what gives its unusual quality to this well-written and always absorbing book.”

—Peter Matthiessen, author of The Snow Leopard and Men’s Lives

“Bert Bender has dragged his nets up and down the coast of Alaska and the inlets of his studies, and brought up a world of work and earned contemplation. I loved this book.”

—Ron Carlson, author of Five Skies

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
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  1. Frontmatter
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  1. Contents
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  1. List of Drawings by Tony Angell
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  1. Acknowledgments
  2. p. ix
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  1. Part I: The Life and the Waters / Chart of South-central Alaska from Cook Inlet to Kayak Island
  2. pp. 1-3
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  1. Emergence
  2. pp. 4-6
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  1. The Thing
  2. pp. 7-16
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  1. Cook Inlet
  2. pp. 17-26
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  1. The Wake
  2. pp. 27-41
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  1. Part II: The Ebb / Chart of Cook Inlet from the Forelands to Seldovia
  2. pp. 43-44
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  1. Catching the Ebb
  2. pp. 45-61
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  1. First Drifts with Margaret
  2. pp. 62-77
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  1. The Cannery
  2. pp. 78-95
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  1. Bowline Bill
  2. pp. 96-103
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  1. Anna A
  2. pp. 104-117
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  1. Poopdeck's Hand
  2. pp. 118-126
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  1. Ngul-a Fatica!
  2. pp. 127-133
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  1. Desdemona Sands
  2. pp. 134-143
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  1. Sounion and Scrivener
  2. pp. 144-157
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  1. Ishmael
  2. pp. 158-169
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  1. Revenge
  2. pp. 170-179
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  1. Moontide
  2. pp. 180-186
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  1. Sea-Brothers
  2. pp. 187-194
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  1. Sign of Wind
  2. pp. 195-201
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  1. Judith on the Bluff
  2. pp. 202-207
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  1. A Mouthful of Sand
  2. pp. 208-223
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  1. Exxon Valdez
  2. pp. 224-241
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  1. Captain and Crew
  2. pp. 242-252
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  1. The Cutting Web
  2. pp. 253-261
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  1. Ninety-Two
  2. pp. 262-271
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  1. Call Me
  2. pp. 272-285
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