Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Longest Silence: A Life in Fishing

Years ago I read Izaak Walton's book The Compleat Angler. I was amazed to find that I actually enjoyed a book about fishing. I am not, nor have I ever been, a fisher, but Walton's book opened up a whole new realm for me: fishing as an interesting subject for readers.

Last December while looking at books on my shelves to put on my reading list, I saw this copy of Thomas Mcguane's book, The Longest Silence: A Life in Fishing that I picked up a few years ago at a library book sale. I decided to make it my book for October.

It's really a collection of essays on fishing, somewhat nostalgic in nature, as he remembers places he fished, along with fishing companions, and types of fish he enjoyed pursuing. (He does write about Walton's book in one chapter.) Although I won't fish, and even though some of the terminology was beyond my comprehension, I liked this book. His descriptions drew me in and kept me wanting to read the book to the end.

Here's one example from his chapter on fishing in the southwestern corner of Montana:

"We traversed a high slope above a river too small and fragile to be named, and descended to begin fishing. The water looked plain and shoally, inconsequential and dimensionless from above, but like so many things in the West that seem flattened by distance and separation, this little river was a detailed paradise at close range. Rufous and calliope hummingbirds were feeding in the Indian paintbrush along the bank, and the thin-water stretches were separated by nice pools. One pool in particular lay at the bottom of a low cliff and held enough water to imply good-size trout. I approached it cautiously and found fish feeding on a hatch of midges. Beneath them several good ones were nymphing and flashing silver messages up through the clear water as they turned on their sides to feed. But the trout were difficult, feeding with extreme selectivity on the midges. I caught a couple of small ones before deciding that the pool was spooked, then moved on vaguely acknowledging that I hadn't quite met the challenge of the midges. When flies get much smaller than size 20 and the leader lies on the water's surface like the footprints of water spiders, my confidence begins to dwindle."

Almost made me wanting to go fishing.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home