Book him, Dano: Words for a rainy day

Thoughts on three stellar fly fishing books
the search for elusive trout - troutalope
Artwork by Deanna Camp, from The Search for Elusive Trout.

One of the perks of being a fly fishing writer is that I occasionally receive books from other folks looking to share their work with me. Sometimes those books are anthologies, or “how-to” efforts, or guide books, while other times they’re filled with essays or personal observations or humor. Regardless, it can be a real treat to see how different people view the world of fly fishing. So here, without further ado, are three worthy titles that have crossed my threshold and caught my attention.

The Search For Elusive Trout (Deanna Camp & Paul Quinnett)

Paul Quinnett, who authored Pavlov’s Trout, along with Fishing Lessons, Darwin’s Bass and several weightier tomes, is one of those rare authors who not only “gets it” when it comes to fishing, but who’s able to share it with his readers in a way that the vast majority of us can’t help but enjoy.

Paul is funny and witty and wildly knowledgeable about fish and their environs, while his talent as a writer seemingly knows no bounds. In The Search For Elusive Trout: True Tales & Cocktails, Paul partnered with renowned artist and mixologist Deanna Camp to share detailed information on a number of fantastic (and fantastical) trout; rare specimens that haunt the riffles and pools of unique streams the world over.

Equal parts humor, expert knowledge & advice, dangerous cocktails, and divinely-inspired artwork, Elusive Trout is one of those books that will make you smile at the same time it wins a place in your heart and a prominent spot on your night stand or coffee table. I’ve spent a fair amount of time with this particular book and I have to admit that as a result I am currently planning a trip to northern California, where I look forward to chasing the storied Deadhead trout on the infamous River of Love while enjoying an Electric Kool-Aid (or two) and discussing life and death with the ghost of Ken Kesey. In the meantime, I have a little advice. Buy this book. Read it. Grin, laugh, fall in love ... and then spread a little of that love around by sharing The Search For Elusive Trout with your closest friends and your favorite fishing partners. You won’t regret it.

Fly Fishing For Trout: The Next Level (Tom Rosenbauer)

As most of you already know, Tom Rosenbauer’s name is synonymous with two words: “fly fishing” and “Orvis.” (Okay, that’s actually three words, but you understand what I’m trying to say ...) So when Tom writes a book about the next level of fly fishing for trout, people who want to catch more trout, or who want to become more technically proficient, or who simply hope to take their fishing to the next level, would be wise to pay attention. What’s more interesting, at least from my perspective, is that folks who don’t necessarily aspire to improve their angling - expert fishermen, and expert guides, and even longtime fly fishing writers - can still glean a ton of valuable information from Fly Fishing For Trout: The Next Level. After all, it’s common knowledge that Mr. Rosenbauer knows more about trout fishing than just about anyone else alive today. If I have a complaint with the book, it’s that there’s so much solid information here that it makes other fly fishing writers, including yours truly, look either miserly or uninformed in comparison. Highly recommended. (As an aside, Tom Rosenbauer will be one of the visiting instructors for this October’s School of Trout class on the Henry’s Fork.)

The Habits of Trout (Tim Schulz)

There is, or so I’ve been told, no need for books like this particular volume of beautifully written, nostalgia-tinged stories. The days of whimsical and humorous fly fishing yarns supposedly ended with the passing of fax machines and VCRs.

Fortunately, though, no one bothered to tell Tim Schulz, who has penned a wonderful little book filled with wry observations, a gentle wit and a deep & abiding love for trout fishing in general and John Voelker’s storied Michigan countryside in particular.

There are some true gems in The Habits of Trout, passages that will make even the most jaded angler grin or nod his (or her) head in agreement and that will inevitably make other fly fishing writers green with envy in response to such gorgeous word-smithing. Here’s a little nibble ...

“There was a time when I believed I could solve the mysteries of trout in particular and of life in general. But now I think we sometimes need to get skunked. We need to break our line on a good fish every now and again, and sometimes we need to cast all day without a take. We need to be grounded by the humility of failure so we can be lifted by the hope of success.”

That’s some tasty writing. Be sure to pick up The Habits of Trout if you want the full meal.