For three years, journalist Richard Louv listened to America by going fishing with Americans. Doing what many of us dream of, he traveled from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from trout waters east and west to bass waters north and south. Fly-Fishing for Sharks is the result of his journey, a portrait of America on the water, fishing rod in hand.
To explore the cultures of fishing, Louv joined a bass tournament on Lake Erie and got a casting lesson from fly-fishing legend Joan Wulff He angled with corporate executives in Montana and fly-fished for sharks in California. He spent time with fishing-boat captains in Florida, the regulars who fish New York City's Hudson River, and a river witch in Colorado. He teamed secrets of fishing and living from steelheaders in the Northwest, Bass'n Gals in Texas, and an ice-fisher in the North Woods. Along the way, he heard from one of Hemingway's sons what it was like to fish with Papa and from Robert Kennedy, Jr., how fishing changed his fife.
As he describes the eccentricities, obsessions, and tribulations of dedicated anglers, he also uncovers the values that unite them. He reveals the healing qualities of fishing, how it binds the generations, how the angling business has grown, and how the future of fishing is threatened. But most of all, Fly-Fishing for Sharks is about the unforgettable characters Louv meets on the water and the stories they tell. From them, Louv learns about our changing relationship with nature, about a hidden America -- and about himself.
A contributing editor at Parents, Louv (Childhood's Future) records his travels- fishing and mingling with like-minded enthusiasts-in this brisk, if somewhat sprawling, survey of fishing across America. As he hops from proletarian New Mexico waters to hazardous ice fishing in northern Michigan, then down South to the Florida Keys, Louv delves into diverse fishing subcultures. There are luxury fishing lodges, slick live-action TV fishing shows and regional and national tournaments where big money is the lure. Other subcultures include an underworld of poachers and the growing fraternity of catch-and-release anglers. Women have formed their own league, too, challenging a male-dominated stronghold; as part of his journey Louv went to Texas to interview Sugar Ferris, founder of Bass'n Gal, the national women's tournament and bass-fishing association, which had 33,000 members before its demise in 1998. (Several corporate sponsors withdrew support after some of the organization's members acknowledged that they were lesbians.) Louv hangs out with urban anglers on New York City's East River, meets Hemingway's fly-fishing son in Montana and plumbs "deep fishing," or transcendental immersion in nature, in Vermont. This hymn to fishing--the sport and mystique--is decked out with photographs of the people he met, and their catches. While doubting readers--like the author's wife, a vegetarian who sides with the fish, or his teenage son, who reluctantly joins him on some outings--may find that Louv's attempt to fathom the sport's spiritual dimensions smells fishy and that his justification of the sport's morality (fish don't feel pain) is a cop-out, his eye-opening odyssey will be pure bliss to anglers.