Beating the heat with books

This summer was hot, hot, hot. While I did manage to get in a couple of pretty good days casting to some nice cutthroat trout

This summer was hot, hot, hot.

While I did manage to get in a couple of pretty good days casting to some nice cutthroat trout on the St. Mary River in the East Kootenay, I’d still have to say my days on the water were all to short – not to mention the fact that fishing was banned during the later part of August due to the warm weather. That’s life.

So I did what I often do when I can’t go fishing. I read a book about other people’s fishing experiences.

Roderick L. Haig-Brown has always been one of my favorite angling authors. He was a fly fisherman, a magistrate, radio broadcaster, university chancellor and conservationist who lived in Campbell River. He was also a prolific writer. The Seasons of a Fisherman is a marvelous collection of his four classic “seasons” books: Fisherman’s Spring (1951), Fisherman’s Winter (1954), Fisherman’s Summer (1959) and Fisherman’s Fall (1964), all compiled together for the first time in one single volume.

This book is far more than just a book about fishing and the trappings and traditions that go along with the sport of fly-fishing. I have read and reread all four of the books many times. Each page draws me back to a simpler time, to an era when fishing was not so high tech and time spent casting a line was, well, more about communing with nature and breathing in the peace and tranquility that comes with standing on the banks of a river. In my mind, I have stood alongside Haig-Brown and watched as the early morning mist rose from the water. Together we have waited for life to explode on the other end of our lines. While I may not have ever met Haig-Brown, in a way I have come to consider him a sort of fishing partner, standing just upstream.

B.C. writer, angling historian and steelheader Art Lingren, whom I have met, wrote a book some years back about Haig-Brown. He not only signed my copy, he returned it to me with all nine of Haig-Brown’s fly patterns (tied by Lingren) adorning the pages where he talks about each pattern. Pretty cool. And while I may not get to go steelheading all that often, I have lived vicariously through the “fishing journals” written by Lingren. The Dean River Steelhead Journal, Kispiox River Journal and Thompson River Journal all highlight the spectacular steelhead fishing to be found in our province. All three books trace the fly-fishing history of their specific waters, as well as offer a wealth of information on when, where and how to fly fish for the “fish of a thousand casts.”

Dave Stewart is another one of those writers whose works I have read many times.

I knew and respected Stewart. His writing style certainly influenced my own. The Last Cast is, as Dave always put it, a collection of adventures and misadventures. It is, in actual fact, a collection of heartwarming and humorous excerpts from his famous Last Cast column, which appeared for some 50 years on the last page of BC Outdoors magazine. I was an avid reader of Stewart’s column long before I met and got to know him. I can still hear his voice when I read his words. And I still get a chuckle out of all the predicaments that he managed to get himself into over the course of a lifetime.

Maybe it’s time I got to work on my own book. Actually, it is already in progress. It’s going to be a collection of my short stories. I already have a title and the artwork for the cover. It’s going to be entitled, Time On The Waters and, with a bit of luck and determination, it will be out in the  spring. It’s all pretty exciting.




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