Not just another rod-and reel-romance, this expert angler's well-told story of learning to husband a trout stream is a keeper. Wright (a contributor to Esquire, Sports Afield, Field and Stream, etc.) realizes a 20-year dream of fishing the Neversink River when he rents a 250-acre estate with one mile of the river flowing through it. (Running through a high Catskill Mountains valley, the Neversink is one of the finest eastern trout streams.) After his first excited forays, Wright begins improving his stream by stocking hatchery-raised brown trout, but he soon discovers that tank-raised fish have had shyness, territoriality, and all survival traits bred out of them. Worse, they are disgustingly easy to catch, rising to almost any fly— particularly those that resemble Purina fish pellets. Wright's experiments quickly become more sophisticated, beginning with ordering eggs of exotic trout subspecies from Alaska and planting them in the freezing December river. Along the way, Wright describes the initial exploitation of the Neversink as a private resource by a wealthy New Yorker who bought a hotel on its banks and claimed riparian rights. Native sons of the Neversink Valley furiously resented being shut off from their river and redoubled their fishing, although high-powered lawyers imported from New York brought them to heel. Wright, who eventually bought ``my water,'' avers that the present-day locals feel no resentment for the summer people. He does catch the occasional poacher: One 18- year-old compounded his trespass by fishing with a worm and was turned into the local authorities ``for processing.'' Although the year-round residents lack ``color and charm,'' there have been many notable visitors, including Theodore Gordon, who launched dry-fly fishing in America in 1890. Sadly, the underprivileged Gordon ``never owned any water'' and actually preferred ``public to private fisheries.'' Highly informative on the natural history of brook trout, the eternally evolving life of the trout stream, and the tiny world of top-drawer troutists.
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