Read: The Longest Silence

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Thomas McGuane's "The Longest Silence," is a book about fishing but it's also a well written book about fishing. Fishing baffles people.

If you love to fish go buy this book. If you love to fly fish, well, stop what you are doing and RUN to buy this book. Thomas McGuane’s “The Longest Silence,” is a book about fishing but it’s also a well written book about fishing, a pursuit that baffles a significant portion of the population. For you non-fishing types, just know there is a major difference between bait fishing and fly casting. The difference between running a 5k Turkey Trot over the weekend or running an ultramarathon over the spine of the Andes.

Fly fishing is ballet on the water.

Bait fishing is more like NASCAR where in great part you are just watching drivers turn left for several hours. This description isn’t meant to be degrading but I know with certainty I need to explain this because I have far too many art-type friends who dismiss fishing while lumping the power-bait “sportsman” in a lounge chair to someone who tied their own fly before hiking eight days to reach a remote river. Love it or hate it, there is a difference.

McGuane is a hopeless case. Without time on the water he would end up in a psych ward babbling about knots. I should also mention his author portrait was made by Kurt Markus who we lost a few short months ago. Markus, if you have been living in narco tunnel for the past forty years, was one of the most talented, prolific, diverse photographers I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen A LOT of snappers come and go. So, this tells me that McGuane runs in good company.

The author is also a very skilled fisherman able to work in harsh conditions on both salt and freshwater. Trout, tarpon, snook, bonefish, salmon, and the incredibly elusive permit all find a home on his line. There is humor, sadness, folly and a lot more. I too have landed trout, snook, bonefish, bass, pike, and more on the fly but tarpon and salmon have yet to cross my path. Fishing was one of the major activities that bonded my father and I. My sister and brother never took to casting. They bonded mostly by yelling at each other, being grounded or flunking out of school.

I bought my out-of-state fishing license while reading this book, and later today I will assemble my seven piece, Orvis travel rod. (This is where the purist will begin to vomit.) Tomorrow night I will launch my folding canoe and begin my quest for the smallmouth bass, an incredible fish to catch on the fly. And yes, when I say “fly” I mean the dry fly. For me, there isn’t any other type. McGuane touches on this topic quite nicely, actually, and he also touches on many of the other off-kilter aspects of the fly life. If you think photographers are driven or geeky, you have no idea how much crazier people who fish take their faults and imperfections. (I watched a friend fall off a beaver dam in his waders, and as his head was going under my only thought was “Shit, he has the car keys in his front pocket.”) Get it, read it.

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