I got caught by Caught.

From Tony Small’s first photo and Glen Libby’s first quote, I was hooked by their wonderful book: Caught – Time. Place. Fish.

“Changing the world was not as simple as it seemed here in Port Clyde, but a remarkable thing happened…”

That’s the first thing I read, and it was so true: this is the story of a truly remarkable achievement in Port Clyde, Maine, one of my favorite places.

As Port Clyde’s fishing industry declined, due to the disappearance of shrimp and other species, Glen jumped up and organized the first Community Supported Fishery (CSF) in the nation.

The CSF was designed to process and sell the fish and allow fishermen to capture more of the profits. It was not an immediate success. Indeed, it’s been a long and often difficult road to profitability. But in the meantime, more than 100 other CSF’s have been organized in our country, and Glen has become a well-known leader in the industry.

Tony’s stunning black and white photos are spread throughout the book and really capture Port Clyde, fishing, and the CSF. She began taking the photos in 2009, “inspired by the ground fishermen who, in an effort to save their fishery, came together to develop the first Community Supported Fishery in the nation.”

“Few sane people opt to do what these fishermen do,” wrote Tony. “You have to be a little crazy to cast off the dock lines in the middle of the night and head out into the watery unknown, leaving anxious hearts and unpaid bills ashore awaiting your success. You have to have a good deal more hope in one day than most folks muster in a lifetime. And that’s before all the odds are stacked against you.” Indeed.

Glen described the effort to change everything for fishermen this way: “Having nothing left to lose can be frightening or liberating, or both; it depends on what you do next.”

Well, Glen did a lot next, and just kept on working night and day to turn the CSF into a success story. And it sure wasn’t easy. He gives us the details of every challenge, from attracting workers who could efficiently clean crabs, to finding new markets for all that crabmeat. The loss of shrimp and ground fish left him with a heavy reliance on crabmeat.

I really enjoyed Glen’s detailed account of this struggle, his description of the significant changes in our fishing industry, and even his chapter on the difficulty of cutting fish. You will learn a lot, enjoy the stories, marvel at the photos, and appreciate even more our amazing fishermen and women.

Here’s their explanation of the title of this book.

Time

Less than a measurable moment of time on the cosmic scale, on the human scale this narrative takes place at the intersection of a period where fishing was “relatively” primitive to the time when the digital age started to influence human behavior at an accelerating rate.

Place

A small slice of geography in the Gulf of Maine on the only life-bearing planet we know of, at this point in time (our home). Or, the fishing grounds frequented by the fishermen of Port Clyde, Maine.

Fish

Species linked to this place which are in varying cycles of abundance and depletion: cod, haddock, hake, Pollock, flounder, sole, red fish, dog fish, monk fish.

Conclusion

This is an important book for Maine’s fishing industry, our political and business leaders, and each and every one of us who love this state.

George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website, georgesmithmaine.com, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.