Winter Motivation for Anglers by Mark Usyk

Lee Wulf said “The finest gift you can give to any fisherman is to put a good fish back…”

I couldn’t agree more. So what then would be the second finest gift? A new rod or reel? A net, maybe waders? These are all fine gifts that most fisherman wouldn’t ever turn down, but I’d have to say the second finest gift would have to relate more directly to the first. It couldn’t possibly be anything material. To me, if a good fish is first, then a good fish story must be second. It’s become why I write this blog every week, why I just released my first book Reflections of a Fly Rod, and why I enjoy reading them myself. I want to motivate others to quit wishing they were fishing and actually go. Nothing does that quite like a good story. I saw a Facebook post yesterday by someone who’d gone to Cuba for a little vacation, someone that doesn’t fish really (claimed by them, not me) and someone who credited a trip out in a boat with a fishing rod to them reading my book on the flight down. So I was responsible for someone casting a rod…in Cuba? As far as I’m concerned, that’s mission accomplished on my end. And Bill Ganey, I can’t thank you enough for being motivated by my stories…And good for you. You fished in Cuba!

It’s also why I’ve decided to break up my blog stories with a book review or two now and then. If a book gets me jonesing for a fishing trip, or is responsible for an all-out sprint to the creek out back at a moment’s notice…I’m going to tell you about that book.

Adirondack Fishing in the 1930s – By Vincent Engels.

JP has this for sale on the site, and between that and the fact that this was a book about fishing the Adirondacks in a bygone era, I just had to read it. It didn’t disappoint. Stories of places familiar to many hikers and fisherman today are told in a time when there was no GPS, only rough roads at best, and no easy way in. Tales from smoke seen rising from hermit camps from fire towers, to trout the size of footballs in places that today you’d be hard pressed to find anything but stocked fish or at most invasive bass. The author seems to have little trouble transporting you right there alongside the action, and not too far into the very first story you’ll be wanting to get your maps out, wishing you were born generations earlier. If you don’t want to run for the Adirondacks after reading this, you better check your pulse, because you might be dead.

The Snow Fly – By Joseph Heywood.

This book caught me off guard to say the least. Up to this point, my library of fishing stories has been comprised of names like Gierach, McGuane, Chambers, writers who sought to tell their stories as any good angler would try to do. Stories of where they fished, who they went with, perhaps what they caught, and hidden within, messages conveying wisdom and experience, laced with the proper amount of embellishments of course.

At one of our Bugs and Beer nights where we get together at a bar and have a few beverages while we tie flies and tell lies…I mean stories, Rick, a fine gentleman we met through the evening outings who I now consider a friend handed me this book with a grin. “A gift for the writer” he said. I’ve never read anything like it before and doubt I will again.

Bowie Rhodes is an intelligent yet naïve young boy who, of course, has a way with a fly rod and trout. He stumbles onto the possible existence of an enormous white insect that’s said to hatch only every seven to ten years, never on the same river, an insect that brings to the surface trout the size of which are not supposed to exist. The story follows Rhodes through his life, as he grows up to be a world traveled reporter in the turbulent and secretive times of the Vietnam War and the Cold War with the Soviets. At one point he takes a break to work as a guide on a Michigan River at a high end lodge where the secret seems all but in his reach. At another point he works with a legend in the fly fishing and writing industry and seems content to leave the mystery behind. But it always comes back. Always there is the presence of some lead, some clue when he seems to have all but given up on it, but the truth is it’s something he can never forget, never give up the search. Government agencies seem bent on erasing any information about the only man ever known to have written of the snowfly, but why? Because of who he was, who he was connected to? And what about the snowfly? Is it even real, or an old fisherman’s story that has turned to myth?

This isn’t your typical fly fishing reading, no, this is a novel, written for the fly fisherman. When you’re talking about fly fishing books, this is most likely like nothing you’ve ever read before. Which is why you should read it.