Trout book helps pass time

Instead of braving the weather fishing for trout, reading a book might be an option

Well, it’s trout season. Good luck with that.

Sure, it’s possible to catch a few trout — as long as you fish the way you would in winter, not spring, with a weighted nymph or streamer fished patiently and deep.

Most stocking wouldn’t have begun yet in a normal year, and this frigid winter has been anything but. Still, on streams with wild trout, or where last year’s hatchery fish tend to hold over well, trout can be caught.

As H.G. Tapply once wrote, “It’s unthinkable to stay home.” But if you opt for the unthinkable, there’s a really nice new book to help pass the time while the trout thaw out.

One is “Teaching Trout to Talk: The Zen of Small Stream Fly Fishing” by Stuart Bartow. As you might expect from a professor who directs the Writing Project at SUNY Adirondack in Queensbury, Bartow is a gifted writer, and he’s written a beautiful and generous book of short, poetic essays about fly-fishing.

They generally range from a half-page to a page and a half in length, and you can work your way through them front cover to back or just flip the book open and read whichever one is in front of you.

“This is not a linear book,” he explains at the start.

Reading that way is like helping yourself from a plate of tasty cookies. It’s a big plate; there are 96 essays, seven years’ worth of writing.

“This book would have been finished sooner, but its completion got in the way of my fishing,” Bartow notes.

A couple of examples, plucked at random:

“A fisher does best, of course, in a state of relaxed awareness, or calm alertness. Lose yourself in your surroundings: the sharpness of the air, the soothing sunlight, or the supernatural mist creeping over the stream. Watch the way the fog lingers in the willows, the most joyful of all trees.”

“Sometimes, when I have lifted a trout out of the stream, it sparkles just like the water dancing beneath it. After releasing a trout, how simply it vanishes back whence it came, creating the illusion that it never existed in fish form before being caught, and is now re-absorbed by the river, as insubstantial as a daydream. To catch a trout is to be startled awake.”

“Teaching Trout to Talk” is published by R.A. Press of Burlington, Vt., and can be bought on and for a measly $12.67. I’m enjoying it and recommend it.

Catskills opener

The Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum in Livingston Manor will hold its annual seasonal kick-off activities April 10-11.

First is the Catskill Legends Dinner, Friday night in the must-see Wulff Gallery at the center. The honorees will include A.E. Hendrickson, for whom the region’s most famous mayfly hatch was named; his nephew, Sam Hendrickson, avid angler and conservationist; artist Francis Davis; and Frank Kuttner, owner of Kuttner’s Fly Shop on Beaverkill Road.

Saturday morning, the annual first cast on the Willowemoc Creek will be given over to children under 16, followed by Agnes Van Put’s traditional soup at the center’s gift shop. Forty fly-tiers will take part in the 14th annual Fly Tyers Rendezvous in the Wulff Gallery, demonstrating for the public.

There will be kids’ activities in the Heritage Workshop from 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m., and a guided tour of the museum at 11 a.m.

By afternoon, things may have warmed up enough to do a little fishing. Either way, it’s hard to imagine a nicer way to celebrate the start of a new trout season. Details are at

Categories: Sports

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