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While it is certainly the case that flyfishing has given rise to more good writing than any sport other than baseball, it is also the case that the pleasures of this literature tend to be somewhat refined.  Flyfishing is, for the most part, the pursuit of the leisure classes, the rest of use spinning reels to baitfish or to go after bass with a variety of garish lures.  We associate bass fishing with the sound of overpowerful boats and the sour smell of stale beer.  Flyfishing gives off a faint whiff of soggy tweed, mixed with pipe tobacco and perhaps a fine brandy.  Your ne'er-do-well uncle bass fishes, your successful granddad flyfished.  All of which makes Peter Kaminsky's new book something of a rarity; kind of a more muscular, less cultured, less aristocratic, flyfishing memoir.

In large part this is owing to the setting that Kaminsky has chosen; no trips to Idaho or Montana here; no Australian Outback or Scottish Highlands; instead he spends the late Summer/early Fall out at Montauk Point, Long Island, fishing with friends and family, guides and sportsmen, locals and commercial fisherman for stiped bass, albacore, and the like.  Both the type of fishing--for bigger fish, on rough seas, battling surfcasters and other boats--and the crowded and competitive conditions make this much different than the typical pastoral treatise on flyfishing.  It's a very New York kind of fishing going on here, democratic and combative.

Beyond the unusual milieu, the book is a must read for the quality of Kaminsky's prose.  Here he is talking about learning to identify signs of bait and stripers :

    The bait fish are the saltwater version of the mayfly: the plentiful thing that the gamefish key on.
    After days of staring at the water, in full sun and twilight, in wind, fog and rain, today I can finally
    see it all happening.  First there is a darkening, a shadow in the water, deep down.  The shadow
    spreads like a wine stain on a white tablecloth.  It comes nearer to the surface.  The sea birds,
    always on the lookout for easy food, may start to assemble and circle over the shadow that takes on
    color as the gamefish push the bait toward the surface.  The stain is now a swatch of color--brown
    with orange and red--a fish-filled Anselm Kiefer canvas.  Next, the baitfish leap from the water into
    the air as they flee the predators.  Finally, all you see is fish and foam and noise and birds--a free
    for all.

Now I have no idea on God's green Earth who Kiefer is, but that's darn exciting writing and the description is so visually rich you can easily see that rise in your mind's eye.  Fall's just around the corner now, and if you can't get to Montauk, this book's the next best thing.


Grade: (A)


Book-related and General Links:
    -BOOK SITE : The Moon Pulled Up an Acre of Bass (Hyperion)
    -ESSAY : Trout and About : Fly-fishing in central Pennsylvania (Peter Kaminsky, March 13, 2000, New York Magazine)
    -ESSAY : Reel Time : Albacore fishing on the Outer Banks (Peter Kaminsky, March 13, 2000, New York Magazine)
    -BOOK LIST : 5 Expert Guides for Fly-Fishing (Peter Kaminsky, 6/25/01, New York Magazine)
    -ESSAY : Grape Escape : The North Fork of L. I. (Peter Kaminsky, 7/17/99, New York Magazine)
    -ESSAY : Follow Your Nose : Sniffing out Truffles has Never Been Easier   (Peter Kaminsky, 3/01/99, New York Magazine)
    -ESSAY : Four Star Farm Boy (Peter Kaminsky, 12/14/98, New York Magazine)
    -REVIEW : of The Making of A Chef Mastering Heat at the Culinary Institute of America. By Michael Ruhlman. (Peter Kaminsky, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW : of MIRIAM'S KITCHEN A Memoir. By Elizabeth Ehrlich (Peter Kaminsky, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW : of HOW I GAVE MY HEART TO THE RESTAURANT BUSINESS By Karen Hubert Allison (Peter Kaminsky, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW : of THE LONG PROGRAM Skating Toward Life's Victories. By Peggy Fleming with Peter Kaminsky (Margaret Van Dagens, NY Times Book Review)

    -ESSAY : Scales of Injustice (Rick Reilly, Sports Illustrated)