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History General

Working the Tides

A Portrait of Canada's West Coast Fishery

edited by Peter A. Robson & Michael Skog

photographs by Roxanne Gregory

Harbour Publishing Co. Ltd.
Initial publish date
Jan 1996
General, Natural Resources, Fisheries & Aquaculture
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Jan 1996
    List Price

Classroom Resources

Where to buy it

Out of print

This edition is not currently available in bookstores. Check your local library or search for used copies at Abebooks.


Commercial fishing boats like the Bluenose on the Canadian dime and the west coast seine boat portrayed for so many years on the five-dollar bill have long ranked up there with grain elevators as key images by which Canadians know themselves, but even those familiar with British Columbia's high-profile salmon fishery probably know little about hake trawling, the sea urchin dive fishery or the geoduck business.

Here is the story of the man who ran away from school at age fifteen to handline coho out of a dugout canoe; the seiner who made his living outsmarting the wiliest of all salmon, the Nimpkish dogs; the crew that knows how to get the best from a fifteen-minute herring opening; the sea urchin diver who got stranded in the middle of a cold, rough sea when his boat drifted off; and the woman who survived a seeming lifetime trapped inside an overturned seine boat.

Working the Tides covers the waterfront, presenting gripping insider views not just of the familiar salmon trollers and seiners, but of the men, women and boats that harvest cod, herring, halibut, octopus, and rockfish - eighty different species in all. Almost all the material in Working the Tides is drawn from the archives of BC's leading commercial fishing magazine, the Westcoast Fisherman, which in 1996 celebrated 10 years of publishing. Like the fishing life itself, this collection ranges from scary to funny to poignant to quietly insightful - with big hauls and "skunked" sets, beautiful secluded fishing spots, hair-raising storms and near misses, goofy sea-going pranks, and even a spine-tingling wheel-watch ghost or two. There is never a dull moment.

About the authors

Peter A. Robson was born in Vancouver, British Columbia. He has spent much of his life crewing and skippering boats in the Pacific, Atlantic, and Caribbean and has worked as a tenderman in the BC salmon industry. He is a freelance writer, and former editor of Westcoast Fisherman. Robson has written and edited hundreds of articles on fishing and logging and is the author of the award-winning bestseller, The Working Forest of British Columbia.

Peter A. Robson's profile page

Michael Skog is the third generation of his family to work in the west coast salmon seine fishery. Since attending the University of British Columbia he has split his time between writing and fishing. He is a contributor to National Fisherman and former editor of the Westcoast Fisherman.

Michael Skog's profile page

Roxanne Gregory's profile page