Amazingly, I found time to read again despite the fact that I probably shouldn't have made time for this. From a purely practical stance, this should've been a ways down the priority list for me, but from a standpoint of actually taking care of myself and enjoying life this book found me at the perfect time.
Craig Nova's "Brook Trout & The Writing Life" was an easy read that told of his coming up in the world as a writer, a father, a husband, and a fly fisherman. Very quickly I fell into his life through the man's beautiful way with words, not only about brook trout but about all aspects of his life. This book made me want to become a better writer. A definite must read.
"One of the beauties of fishing, or spending time in the natural world, is being surprised when you least expect it." pg. 140
No, I'm not affiliated with this book in any way and I don't receive any compensation for recommending it. Just passing on the good word. Buy it on Amazon HERE
Another Lousy Day in Paradise
by John Gierach
Since I, like so many that enjoy books about fishing, am a Gierach nut this book has been on my reading list for quite a while now. It's not that I didn't want to read every one of his books as quickly as I possibly could, it's just that I felt diversifying my reading list would keep things a little more interesting.
This book is a collection of essays about many subjects in and around fly fishing. From helping a fisheries biologist locate some rock bass for his collection to the art of a game dinner with friends, nothing is outside the realm of Mr. Gierach's musings. I particularly appreciated his view on carp fishing as a anti-establishment activity and the chapter on the challenges and joys found in winter fishing (especially since by reading this book I've avoided doing some of the cold weather escapades). But my favorite chapter is "What Else is There?" where the author explores his own reasons for fishing. In this chapter he confronts the questions of "why?" that we've all had thrown at us at different times and comes to the conclusion that it doesn't matter.
Definitely worth your time "Another Lousy Day in Paradise" would be a welcomed addition to any fisherman's library.
"If people don't occasionally walk away from you shaking their heads, you're probably doing something wrong." - pg 139
Buy "Another Lousy Day in Paradise" at Amazon.com
In Hemingway's Meadow
Edited by Joe Healy
This is a book that's been on my Amazon wishlist for quite some time. I'm not sure why I didn't buy it earlier, but I'm glad I finally got around to it. The book is a collection of Award-Winning Fly-Fishing stories that offer a wide range of settings and characters.
The first story to really grab my attention was For Keeps by Gary Whitehead. The story is of Larold and his brother Rich fishing on the Battenkill. Though, to say this is a fishing story (like so many throughout this book) is to miss the point. This is about life's regrets and trying to make peace with the past through fishing. Childhood mistakes had come to haunt their relationship and the passing of their father left them estranged in ways hard to describe. Rich had a mental disability and growing up Larold made some mistakes that he was having trouble forgiving himself for. Thoughts of their father's treatment of Rich while growing up also clouds the time on the water, though they seem to find closure by the time you get to the end. Edith's Rule by Seth Norman is essentially about the same thing, but of course, the answers are as varied as the characters. This story is about an older fisherman that has become somewhat of a fishing hermit. The widower spends time on the water thinking of his loss and reflecting on what he calls Edith's rule. The idea that certain items just belong to certain people, what to whom only she seems to know. It all comes around and by the end of the story Edith's rule helps the old boy make connections with the people around him and, potentially, find some healing.
I loved the majority of the stories in the book, and only liked the other, so it was no surprise when I stayed up way too late and finished the book long before I was ready to be done. It's a good read and I whole-heartedly suggest you read it.
"I'm no philosopher. Not even a therapist. So, can somebody explain to me how 15 years of friendship comes down to two guys up to their knees in maybe the most beautiful river in the world with nothing but clear, empty water connecting them in any real way?
I didn't think so.
I said, "Dave, sometimes you just lose them.""
Pg. 116 Opening Day by Richard Chiappone
Buy it on Amazon HERE
and The View From My Vise
by R.E. Long
Just because I've been spending most of my fall hunting and working (not necessarily in that order) doesn't mean that I'm not still thinking and reading about fishing. Luckily I found this R.E. Long book to keep my head in the game. I really liked the format of a short story then a fly recipe of the fly featured in the story. It made for some good reading and a nice application story to the patterns. The patterns are as varied as the locations for the stories. R.E. fishes from coast to coast for trout of all varieties, accidental salmon, and some bluegills. His stories make me want to go to these places and try my hand at fishing them and provided a great escape from my day-to-day.
"That moment in time where I am in my perfect corner of the world, the fish is cooperating in his corner of the world & the fly ends up right where it should be. Set perfectly in the corner of that buttery-gold jaw." - pg. 177
Buy Tomorrow's Fish at Amazon.com
Check out Ralph's Fly Box
By Robert Traver
I'm always in search of new authors to read, especially when it comes to books about fishing and the outdoors. So when I ran across a list of suggested books in one of my favorite author's book, John Gierach, I knew that I'd have to give all of them a try. The first of these is the book in question, Trout Magic by Robert Traver. The book is really a collection of short stories, which I definitely prefer. It's not that I don't like novels, I just find it a lot easier to read a short story here and there rather than commit large chunks of time to reading a book.
The first story is entitled "Sins My Father Taught Me" and is about the author's early days in fishing. The "Sins" are simply tactics of bait fishing and other non-fly angling. I found it ironic that in his conversion story he refers to these other fishing methods as sins, yet later in the book he relates how fly fishermen are the world's biggest snobs. I find this on level with complaining about crowds and not realizing that you yourself help to make the crowds larger.
The chapter "D. McGinnis: Guide" is a humorous tale about some backwoods folks that advertise, and operate (for at least one trip) their small cabin as a fishing lodge on the big dead river. The chumming, bait fishing, hard drinking bunch don't seem like they'd be much of a guide/lodge service and the first bunch of clients seem to think likewise. Until, that is, they start catching some quality fish. This, of course, makes all right with the world and the group of sports makes sure to book next year's trip.
My favorite chapter has to be "The Dancing Fly". It relates a trio of fishermen who come upon frenchmen's pond and immediately struggle with the wild, difficult fish that take residence there. It seems that the only fly these fish will even consider eating is one that dances on top of the water. That Winter, the main character, Al, takes it upon himself to figure out the solution by writing to a biologist who lives a safe distance away. Armed with new flies, and a new technique, on opening day Al makes a standing bet with his buddies that quickly makes him some money until they turn it back on him. For me, this had to be the highlight of the book.
Although some of the chapters seem quite dated ("Women Fishermen: Are They for Real?") most of the book is a pretty good read. I wouldn't choose this book above others that I've done reviews on, but it's still a pretty good one. Hope you can get out, be safe, and enjoy nature or at very least read about it.
"Goody, we're gonna plant a troupe of topless mermaids in the place," Pinky broke in, clapping his hands. "Then all we gotta do is lay around all day wth binoculars and a six pack, watchin' 'em cavortin' an' dozin' in the sun." He rolled his eyes. "No shenanigans, of course, 'cause my mother done told me the best thing to do with a sleeping bag is leave her lay." pg. 172
Streams of Consciousness
Hip-Deep Dispatches from the River of Life
by Jeff Hull
It took me a couple of chapters to really get into this book. I don't know why, but it seemed that the author was disconnected from the stories and it made me not care. Again, I'm not sure why, but it wasn't until the chapter Blackfeet Lake Tales that the author became real to me. Maybe it was the tension in the Native American/White relationship so succinctly related through a line of dialog, "You're pretty ugly for a white guy."
Another highlight of the book came from the chapter Brothers in waiting, where we're not only introduced to a young angler named Talan but also the author's brother. The author is helping Talan try and catch some fish through Camp Mak-A-Dream and the author relates his experiences with that of his brother Chris, who was diagnosed with a terminal illness at age 8. Later in the book Third Spaces tells the end of Chris's story in a painful chapter that relates the awful experience of losing a loved one.
Overall, this is a fishing book, but it deals with so much more than just fishing. In the chapter Rorschach Bluegill the author tells of his time in a mental institution and his battle with depression. As a teacher it was a very poignant reminder of what many of my students deal with and how misunderstood the affliction can truly be.
I think Streams of Consciousness is a great book, one that I'll probably re-read sometime in the near future.
"But, even though the white walls of the ward stood just beyond the green crest of the hill, nobody killed themselves or even talked about it down where the bluegills lived." pg 110
Sex, Death and Fly-Fishing
by John Gierach
I know, I know. Another Gierach book? I'm trying to stretch out to different authors but I can't help coming back to John's books and his familiar circle of friends.
This collection of short stories takes us around John's home state of Colorado, Wyoming, British Colombia and even Utah's Green River. Though I have to admit my favorite chapters deal with the lesser-loved fishes like gar and carp. This is another great read, one that it's very easy to get through too quickly.
"There was a time when I thought I could just be a fisherman and live a quiet little life. Now I see that, like it or not, I have to be a soldier in the trout wars." pg. 224
The River Why
by David James Duncan
This was my second reading of The River Why and now I remember why I didn't read it for so long. The first half of this book took about a month for me to labor through, and the second half about a week. Funny how this works, because most of the fishing takes place in the first half.
This is the story of Gus, his fishing obsessed family, him growing up, realizing that there are more important things than fishing and, ultimately, finding happiness. Tons of philosophical topics are discussed, but the main idea seems to be whether or not God exists. Different wouldn't begin to describe the approach on the topic of divinity, what with the garden world, dreefees and invisible twins. But in the end the conclusion appeases Gus (the main character) and seems good enough to the reader. I think it's a good enough book to read once, not sure about twice, but stay away from the movie I thought it was horrible.
"Nobody ever discovers truth by barfing up Sunday-school answers to questions" Titus pg. 181
"I like the implication that even though I'm hopelessly stupid compared to my soul or Essence, I'm damned useful: I have a profound purpose!" Gus pg. 182
Effective Stillwater Fly Fishing
by Michael Goraman
In my continuing effort to grow as a stillwater fisherman I purchased this book. I found it at a Barnes & Noble, so I was able to peruse it before purchasing. A couple of things caught my eye from the get-go, including the very nice full color photographs throughout and the very specific chapter headings. This book is incredibly detailed and covers a huge amount of information. From stillwater entomology and fishing methods to finding fish and the author's all-star flies, it truly covers everything you need to know. There were a few times that I felt the book was being a little redundant, but with Mr. Gorman being a teacher it's probably just a habit to hammer the more important points home. Overall, this is an informative read that has definitely made me want to be more analytical on the water and I think will help me catch more fish when on the lakes & reservoirs this year.
"To be a successful lake fly fisher, you must embrace these challenges. You must enjoy puzzle solving. And you must cultivate a determined attitude to win tomorrow after being defeated today. There will be tough days, but on most, the fish can be caught. After all, they must eat, just like you and me. Vow that if anyone can catch a fish today, it will be you. Success begins with that decision." - pg. 5
The Curtis Creek Manifesto
Written & Illustrated By Sheridan Anderson
I've had this book on my Amazon wish list for quite some time but for some reason hadn't pulled the trigger yet. This is particularly perplexing considering how expensive this book is not ($8.91 at the time of this writing). But the review I read by The Currant Creek Fly Company (read it here) peaked my interest and I made the order.
The first thing that caught my eye were the illustrations that are found throughout this book. They help to show exactly how things should be done, and also make this work more approachable for younger anglers (like my 10 yr. old). It is a quick read at only 48 pages that are fully illustrated. Don't let the comic book-ish approach fool you, there is tons of information to be found between the covers. Everything from stalking fish, finding holding water and building leaders to rod repair and entomology is covered here. This is definitely a book I will read again, encourage my sons to read, and inevitably loan to some friends that are getting started in fly-fishing.
"Though shalt avoid fly-drag like the plague and watch thy lure like a hawk." The Eleven Commandments, pg. 3
The Longest Silence
By Thomas McGuane
I'll admit that I was led to the writing of Thomas McGuane by the several quotes and references made by John Gierach in his books. There is a reason, McGuane is a great writer and his stories are engaging and insightful. The stories vary from trout fishing in Montana and Argentina to fishing the flats for bonefish, permit and tarpon. Several stories vied for my favorite as I quickly read through this book, but McGuane saved the best for last with the final chapter "Sons". After describing and evaluating his relationship with his own father and talking about the father figure he found during his childhood trips to Massachusetts, he then talks about his own son and how different they are. It was this final observation that I found so enthralling because I feel like it was very similar to my relationship with my sons. They shared a great moment when they each landed a permit at the same time that was definitely a "classic". In short, this was a fantastic read and has definitely been added to the 'read again' list.
"He was grinning at me. All my children grin at me, as if I was crazy in an amusing sort of way."
Recently, and among people we didn't know that well, my eleven-year-old daughter said something that made jaws drop. Having heard the phrase "the F-word," possibly from a potty-mouthed sibling, and assuming in our house that it must mean fishing, she told a group of guests, "All my dad cares about is the F-word." In the astonished silence that followed this showstopper, she added, "When he's not doing it, he's reading about it.
At The Grave of the Unknown Fisherman
By John Gierach
Yes, another Gierach book. I've read, and re-read, a bunch of them. There's a reason, John is one of the best at conveying the feeling of fishing, and this book is no exception. "At the Grave of the Unknown Fisherman" takes us through a year in the life of a fishing writer providing the many insights that we've come to expect.
"To a fisherman, the realities of complications is that they cut into the fishing time, never mind the particulars."
"Not to brag or anything, but I was pretty much death from above on easy fish."
The Wilderness World of John Muir
Edited by Edwin Way Teale
This book is a collection from Muir's lifetime of being in, and writing about, the outdoors. To start, there were some interesting stories from his youth and how he transitioned into adulthood. I found it remarkable how mechanically, and industrially, gifted he was yet only found joy in Nature. Honestly though, I found the book hard to finish as I had trouble pushing through some of the less interesting excerpts. The best part was saved for the last section where the philosophy of Muir was all brought together. Overall, it's not a book that I'll be reading again anytime soon but I'm still glad that I made the venture.
"This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never all dried at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor is ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming, on sea and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls."
All Fishermen Are Liars
by John Gierach
The latest in the Gierach collection, "All Fishermen Are Liars" is another collection of essays from one of the best in outdoor writing. This book was released back in April and I bought it right away, but avoided starting to read it. It's not that I didn't want to, actually it was quite the opposite, but I was afraid that once I started it would be over much too quickly. Once I finally got a start, I limited myself to only one chapter per sitting and still finished the book too quickly. This collection fits in well with his other works with a noted increase in salmon fishing and a lack of the more familiar fishing friends (not a bad thing on either count, just different). From a fishing biography, a discusison on rods and the validity of Tenkara, to traveling the continent and interlaced with some small streams "All Fisherman Are Liars" is another gem that should be on your reading list.
"All fishermen are liars except you and me (and sometimes I wonder about you)." - Anonymous
Learning from the Water
Fishing tactics & fly designs for the toughest trout
by René Harrop
This is a book that I think every angler who wants to become more proficient on the water needs to read. This book outlines all the major hatches with great patterns to match, along with how and when to use them. Even better than all that are the stories associated with each hatch, and how he came to each conclusion. I especially liked the chapter "A Lesson in Humility" which outlines how important proper planning for a trip is. Great, informative read. I highly recommend it.
"And the joy of personal discovery is the lasting benefit of any lesson."
The Great Sadness
Indigenous Angling and the Loss of Home
by Roger Emile Stouff
This book is all about how the world is changing and how the author is losing his Native Waters. Losing fishing grounds are indicative of the loss of heritage being suffered by the Chitimacha people.
This book held some great moments and stories. Like when the author traveled to Montana to be a guest on the Fly Fishing America television show. However, I had a hard time getting into it. There seemed to lack direction, and I often found myself losing motivation to keep reading. The best parts were great, it's just too bad there were the other parts.
"They were either biting yesterday, or you should come back tomorrow." - Nick Stouff
No Shortage of Good Days
by John Gierach
If you haven't read John Gierach you've been missing out on some of the best outdoor writing out there. The layout of this book, following his standard, is a short story per chapter. This makes it easy to pick up and read for short periods, although sometimes it's difficult to put it down after only one chapter. He covers a lot of ground in this book, talking about night fishing, winter fishing, in some pretty diverse places including Tennessee, Mexico, Labrador and some of his home water around Colorado. But it's always about the people and experience with Gierach and you'll find this book is much too short.
"It's also an article of faith in my personal religion that there are countless miles of underfished and underappreciated trout streams in the Rocky Mountain West just waiting for a fisherman with enough poetry in his soul to give them their due."
Fly Fishing Yellowstone National Park
by Nate Schweber
After having the privilege of spending some time in Yellowstone these past couple of years I thought owning a guide book to help find some more secluded (read secret) spots was probably a good idea. So I picked up this book while looking around the Fishing Bridge General Store. Instantly, I was drawn in to the format and wonderful stories about each spot. Tales of thirty inch trout, the lake trout epidemic, some really nice photography and even Bigfoot make this a great read with some invaluable information for the visiting angler. There also came a hefty dose of Bear awareness, which may or may not keep me from exploring some of the more backcountry destinations. Either way, I really enjoyed this book and would gladly recommend it to anyone interested in getting to know Yellowstone's fishing opportunities.
"And if you can't appreciate a 12-inch wild trout in a place like this, you need to adjust your perspective on this sport."
-Dispatches from the Madison Valley-
Not a new book by any means, but one that I just finished reading, "Inventing Montana - Dispatches from the Madison Valley" proved to be a great read. The descriptive word-painting throughout conjures visions of places I've never been. With characters like "The Painter", "The Mechanic" and "The Artist" among others creates a feeling that this could be any group of friends spending the summer together in a rented ranch house. The "Dispatches" format allowed me to enjoy reading even with my consistently inconsistent schedule. I read it over a few weeks by taking in a few pages each night, though it was often hard to stop. Leeson's wit and easy going mannerisms come through in this book, and leaves me feeling like I would enjoy fishing with him, and his group of companions. Which is pretty high praise in my world.
"Certainly in the end we cast a fly on the water for the same basic reason that we test a hypothesis or read a story - we want to see how it all comes out." - pg. 146