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by John Gierach

Pub Date: May 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-684-82424-8
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

 The usually reliable Gierach treads tepid waters in this latest collection of fly-fishing pieces. A Colorado outdoorsman, Gierach (Dances with Trout, 1994) has always included an element of humor in his work, but here he seems more intent on working in wry, curmudgeonly one-liners than he does on telling a good fishing story. A lot of it is strained and obvious: ``I guess I have to admit I'm not all that fond of people in general--if nothing else, there are too damned many of them.'' He's amused by trendy environmentalist nomenclature: antihumanist anarchist primitivist. But he too has a political position: ``We should have a clean, healthy, diverse natural environment so I can go fishing.'' The humor works occasionally, as when he's fishing so close to a house, he can overhear an obscenity-laden domestic dispute. Gierach does hit the mark when he plays it straight. He discusses the merits of guides from the old school, who found a place to fish and left you alone, and the new breed who've learned to be ``teacher, coach, chauffeur, valet, tour director and therapist.'' He offers practical advice on shipping and traveling with expensive, fragile rods, and he does a good piece on fly- fishing Colorado's Blue River in the dead of winter. The most delectable piece describes a repast of ``casual confusion'' that included sockeye salmon, venison sausage, lightly smoked rainbow trout, and wild mushrooms and raspberries. Some fine moments, as always; but Gierach should allow humor to arise of its own accord rather forcing it to the surface. (line drawings by Glenn Wolff, not seen)