When James Prosek was just fifteen, a ranger named Joe Haines caught him fishing without a permit in a stream near Prosek's home in Connecticut. But instead of taking off with his fishing buddy, James put down his rod and surrendered. It was a move that would change his life forever. Expecting a small fine and a lecture, James instead received enough knowledge about fishing and the great outdoors to last a lifetime.
The story of an unlikely friendship, Joe and Me is a book for those who remember the mentor in their life, the one who changed the way they look at the world.
Prosek, now a senior at Yale, gained a reputation as a naturalist when in 1996 at age 20, he published Trout: An Illustrated History. In this memoir, which is accompanied by his watercolors, he recounts the experiences he had as a teenager after he was caught fishing without a permit in a Connecticut reservoir by game warden Joe Haines. Instead of sending the boy to juvenile court, Haines decided to show Prosek that one can catch just as many fish in legal waters. The two were soon fishing and hunting together, and Haines was teaching his young friend about nature and such practical matters as how to kill and butcher a bull, how to make lead fishing weights and how to dig for mussels and clams. Prosek's eagerness to learn from Joe is engaging, especially when he thinks about what he wishes for his education and realizes that Joe, with no formal instruction beyond high school, can gain wisdom simply by observing the world. Although Prosek's impressionistic watercolors are appealing, his graceless prose and wooden dialogue hamper his attempt to portray Joe as memorable.