This edition of Fish Untamed reads covers a locale-specific book useful to a wide geography, a celebration of our public lands through personal experience, and an autobiographical biography about the “Father of American Dry Fly Fishing.”
1. Fly Fishing Austin & Central Texas by Aaron Reed
In Fly Fishing Austin & Central Texas, Aaron Reed takes a location-specific book and makes it useful to a wide audience. Despite the fact that I have never fished in Texas (although I did spend a good deal of time in his area as a kid), I found both the concept of the book and the content to my liking. The book is divided into many sections, with some being general information and others a guide to specific fishing areas in Texas. The river-specific sections are probably best saved for your next trip to Texas, but the other sections of the book are great for everyone. These cover everything from general fly fishing information like lingo, gear, and ethics, to fish identification and tips for getting children out on the water. There is also an abundance of high-quality photos. Possibly my favorite aspect of the book is how Reed structured the guide sections to be more about the overall experience than just a list of places to go. For a given area, he ranks the best ways to access the water, includes info on the best local brewery to hit after fishing, suggests a good song for that particular stretch, and other fun tidbits. This is a great read to have on your shelf, regardless of whether you’ve had a chance to fish near Austin before.
If you want to hear more from Aaron, check out episode 26 of the podcast!
2. That Wild Country by Mark Kenyon
Every American is the owner of over 600 million acres of public land, although, in the grand scheme, very few are aware of that ownership. Having used public lands his whole life and realizing that he didn’t actually know much about their history, Meateater’s Mark Kenyon decided to take his own journey through the public land legacy. That Wild Country chronicles a large handful of Kenyon’s adventures on public lands across the country, and also covers the past, present, and future of their story. Each area he visited is broken up into a couple chapters: one chapter usually focuses more on his own experience there, and the other is often focused more on its significance within the history of public lands. This is an especially great read for those who want to learn about the past without getting bored. Mark’s eventful and often funny stories are a welcome relief among drier information, and his writing is also extremely welcoming and easy to digest.
3. The American Fly Fishing Experience: Theodore Gordon: His Lost Flies and Last Sentiments by John Gubbins
Theodore Gordon is often considered the “Father of American Dry Fly Fishing.” A sufferer of tuberculosis, Gordon often kept to himself, immersing himself in fly tying, fishing, and writing in the Catskills. In The American Fly Fishing Experience, John Gubbins has successfully taken bits and pieces of Gordon’s writings about himself and turned them into a personal account of his life, written from a first-person point of view. While bits of the book have been inferred from Gordon’s notes, Gubbins pulls everything together and filled in the gaps well enough that it’s very easy to forget that Gordon himself did not write the book.
Gordon’s eclectic personality shines throughout, and at times you may find yourself both confused by, and in agreement with, Gordon and his many opinions on fly fishing issues of his time. From his belief that European flies could and would not be effective in the United States, to his distaste for “scientific anglers” who wish to remove all doubt from fishing, to his insistence that the customer is always right despite often believing their fly choices subpar, the reader may never truly figure Gordon out, despite enjoying diving into his mindset. This is a must-read for any angler, and especially those who want a glimpse into the dry fly world of the early 20th century.
Don’t forget to check out other Fish Untamed Reads!