A debut collection that offers a brilliant image of small-town life in Montana. Each of these eight stories revolves around dry-fly trout fishing on the Elkheart River, near the small town of Travers Corners that's been around for 120 years or so. While this kind of terrain has been well and sufficiently rendered before (Norman Maclean comes to mind), Waldie makes it fresh. His most moving piece is ``Travels,'' about a worn-out, despairing musician who rents space on the Elkheart River for his mobile home, sits and fishes, strums his guitar and is slowly, quietly, believably rejuvenated, deciding that ``there is nothing on God's green earth that could make this place any better.'' Other tales focus on Judson C. Clark, who returns after a spell in the outer world and sets up a boatyard for building his own handcrafted float boats. Jud's expertise as a guide to the best fishing edges and pools on the Elkheart are frequently called upon, while Waldie deftly uses the obsession for fishing shared by his characters to reveal the inner nature of visitors and townsfolk alike. As Jud says: ``Fly fishing isn't a sport; basketball is a sport. . . . Fly fishing isn't a parlor game; Monopoly is a parlor game. . . . Fly fishing really is: one of life's most pleasant pastimes.'' Does that reduce a passion to a pastime? Not at all. In these stories, Jud takes an elderly blind man fishing in a heavy rain. He also recollects his first lover, and the sight of her swimming in the river. Meanwhile, a titled, wealthy descendant of D. Downey, one of the town's founders, arrives from England to look into his past by fishing with Jud. Hardly anything happens, but by book's end it's hard to resist the impulse to pack up and head for Montana. Sheer heaven on a trout stream.