What's that you're reading? [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: What's that you're reading?

01-10-2001, 02:46 PM
It just occurred to me that lately, over the last couple of years, I've been thinking more and more about reading about the subject of our passion including books about places around the globe which for some reason have a special significance.

I think this maybe the type of thread that might need a separate Flytalk grouping altogether, like "books" or "literature" but I'll let you guys be the judge of that.

I'll tell you what I've been reading lately and what books I've purchased over the holidays, so as to keep me busy through the winter whenever there's some leisure time available.

Having read The "Earth is Enough" by Harry Middleton I realized how lucky we are to have writers of his caliber that can write about fly fishing, life, places and personal philosophies. I also realized how unlucky we are that he died so young and that we won't have any more of his writings. I recently picked up "On The Spine of Time" and "Rivers of Memory" which I have yet to read. I also tried getting "The Bright Country" but it's out of print and I have not yet located a copy through out of print book outlets.

Another book I've picked up and that comes highly recommended is "Meanderings of a Fisherman" by Seth Norman. Haven't read that one yet either.

Today I went through a book sale at the University where I work and picked up a copy of "Secrets of the Saltwater Fly" by f-stop Fitzgerald. It was a good buy, I think, with nice glossy pics of saltwater patterns, history, name of originator, uses, etc. Figured it'd be good to get some of the salty lexicon before my trip at the end of May.

Having been born in Argentina and travelled to Patagonia in '99, Patagonia has become sort of an obsession with me. This obsession doesn't stop with fishing and I'm reading more and more descriptions and historic accounts of this area through the words of naturalists, essayists, historians, fishermen, and other men of letters of English, Spanish and American descent. This includes works that span almost a couple of centuries.

Here's some of the contemporary stuff I've read:

Argentine Trout Fishing: A Fly Fisherman's Guide to Patagonia by American Bill Leitch

Thankfully there was a recent second printing of this work, especially now that Bill passed away. I had heard about this guide and finally bought a copy. This is a tremendous book for anyone seriously thinking about going there or even if you just like to dream. He writes about the place, the people, and of course, the fishing from a fly fisherman's perspective and he knows what he's talking about after fishing the area for over 30 years. I read in detail about the National Park I fished with local friends when I was there and his descriptions are right on the money. Excellent work.

If you want vivid images of Patagonia then you must read Bruce Chatwin's "In Patagonia". This book is not about fishing. An English writer, Bruce wrote this book in 1973 and he's also been long dead, but the powerful images he portrays from walking that part of the Earth are absolutely unmatched.

Anyone interested in what that place was back long ago, must read Voyage of the Beagle by Charles Darwin. His diaries from his trip around the world onboard the Beagle go back some 170 years and the descriptions offered by this naturalist about the places and the "savages" are captivating. In fact, this book prompted me to get other works from other people who lived there at the turn of the century and who had insights of what it was like in those times.

I just picked up, through and out of print service, a first edition of "Uttermost Part of The Earth" by E. Lucas Bridges who lived among the Fuegians (native indians of Tierra del Fuego) for many years about a hundred years ago. haven't read it yet, but can't wait.

One other related book is "Patagonia: Natural History, Prehistory& Ethnography at the Uttermost End of the Earth" by McEwan, Borrero y Prieto which is siting on its shelf waiting for me to pick it up.

Another work from before the turn of the century is that by English naturalist Hudson who wrote "Idle Days in Patagonia"
He was a bird man and descriptions of local bird species abound.

I'm also trying to get copies of some of the reports from J.W. Titcomb, one of the original American biologists sent to Argentina with fertilized eggs of rainbow and brook trout somewhere around 1906. Should be interesting reading to trace some of the fish populations in Patagonia.

Hope I have not bored you with this post. I, for one, would like to see what others in the Forum are reading.

01-11-2001, 08:55 AM

I got a gift certificate for Barnes and Noble for xmas. Found an oddball called "Fishing and Thinking" written in 1959 by an Irish scholar named A.A. Luce. It is in reprint now by a company in Maine. The book is a wonderful work on Flyfishing in Ireland in 1959 interwoven with philosophy.
The reader does much reflection on life and fishing as he wonders the upper mountain Tarns and loughs. His life overlapped William Yeats life and was profoundly influenced by him. I'm in the Ireland trip planning mode now so it's just right. Also I was born the year the book was written.
A great read so far.


01-11-2001, 09:26 AM
I am rereading "Cape Cod" by Thoreau. Last Time I read it was about 10 years ago. Comparing his views with what exists today.

Tod D
01-11-2001, 08:39 PM

Great stuff. Patagonia sure is somewhere I'd like to go...reading about it may be the next best thing.

While it's not directly about fishing per se, John McPhee's book, "Coming into the Country", is one of my favorite "outdoor" books. Makes me long for Alaska everytime I read it (I'm rereading it again this winter for around the 5th time...). Read McPhee for the 1st time in 6th grade when my grandfather gave me "Sense of Where You Are" - McPhee's book on Bill Bradley's years at Princeton. Regardless of the topic, his writing is tremendous.

Another writer I'd highly recommend to board members is W.D. Wetherell. He has three fishing books/essays that I've found to be among the best written: "One River More", "Vermont River", and "Upland Stream". For what it's worth, his (non-fishing, fiction) short stories and novels are terrific too. His books are somewhat hard to find, but well worth it. Upland Stream may be my favorite fishing book ever.

On the nonfishing front, I'm also tearing through Jeff Shaara's "Gone for Soldiers", a historical novel of the US/Mexican War. Jeff is the son of the late Michael Shaara, who wrote "Killer Angels" upon which the movie Gettysburg was based. Following his father's death soon after he wrote Killer Angels, J Shaara wrote Gone For Soldiers, then "Gods & Generals" and "Last Full Measure". Read in order, GFS, G&G, KA, and LFM trace US history through the Mexican War and the US civil war. Great stuff.

At the risk of getting too political, Molly Ivin's book, "Shrub - the short but happy political life of George W. Bush", is, dare I say, both hysterical and sobering at the same time.

01-11-2001, 09:05 PM
I'll second Tod's recommendation of McPhee. I also have read "Coming Into The Country" in addition to a few other McPhee books. Great stuff.

Fred A.