Tuesday November 25, 2014

Thoughts on famous fisherfolk

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Welcome to Week CXV of ‘Fishing Parkland Shorelines’. Like most of us I am a novice fisherman, loving to fish, but far from an expert. In the following weeks I’ll attempt to give those anglers who love to fish but just don’t have access to a boat, a look at some of the options in the Yorkton area where you can fish from shore, and hopefully catch some fish.

So recently elsewhere in this newspaper, myself and fellow reporters Thom Barker and Randy Brenzen have been revealing which fiction character we would most liked to meet (July 16 edition), and last week (July 23) the person from history we would like to meet.

It has been a much more difficult process than I had first anticipated when I suggested the idea a couple of weeks back.

But it has gotten me to thinking about who from fiction, and from history I would most like to go fishing with.

On the fiction side of the equation I would want to meet up at a trout-filled stream with someone who has an interest in fishing written into their characters.

In that regard there are fewer obvious choices than I might have imagined, at least without doing a ton of research to jog this old memory.

Two which come immediately to mind are from a pair of fine British police dramas.

I happen to love Foyle’s War as a series, and DCS Christopher Foyle as a character (played by Michael Kitchen). There are several instances throughout the series where you see Foyle with a cane fly rod in-hand, or talk includes references to fishing.

The show happens to cover one of the more interesting times in recent British history, the years covering World War II, and directly after the war ends.

From the perspective of what the Brits faced on a daily basis, from Luftwaffe bombing raids, through to fear of German invasion, food rationing, and the loss of young men is a compelling era.

But there is something of the solitude a trout stream can provide that is seen through Foyle’s eyes.

The combination would make a day fishing with Foyle top my fiction list.

Then there is Inspector George Gently, a character from the show of the same name. Played by Martin Shaw, Gently is a Brit cop in the turbulent 1960s, and like Foyle he picks up a fly rod and heads to a stream as a way to get away from the pressures of the job.

Not quite as loved as Foyle, Gently does come to mind.

From books Ned Oglivie, better known as ‘Dog’ to readers of author John Galligan’s four-book ‘fly fishing mystery’ series would be a complete blast to fish with.

A man on the road across America in searching of fishing spots and to escape a past he doesn’t want to face. Dog is a memorable character that is likely my favourite among a number of fishing mysteries I have read.

Similarly, I love the fishing mysteries by Keith McCafferty, and former private eye, turned fly fishing river guide, Sean Stranahan comes to mind too. Not quite as flawed, and gritty as Dog, Stranahan being a guide would ensure good fishing in addition to being interesting company.

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From history, the list gets much longer.

It’s hard not to just say Izaak Walton, and leave it at that.

The author of ‘The Complete Angler’, Walton has transcended to something beyond a writer. There are fishing clubs named after him, and people still profess to be a disciple of his teaching regarding fishing even though the book dates back to 1653.

Spending time with someone whose views on fishing have survived for nearly 400-years is hard to top.

But a fishing day with Ernest Hemingway would come close.

There are not many writers more famed than Hemingway, and he was also a noted sportsman, both as a hunter and fisherman.

Hemingway’s life was as big as any of the characters he created, and as a humble writer myself fishing with him would be an amazing experience.

It is because of his skill with both words, and a fishing rod, I also mention John Gierach here.

Gierach is the author of several previous books, including ‘At the Grave of the Unknown Fisherman’, ‘Standing in a River Waving a Stick’, and ‘Dances with Trout’. His work has appeared in Gray’s Sporting Journal, Field & Stream, where he is a contributing writer, and Fly Rod & Reel, where he is a columnist.

I can easily say his books are my favourite in terms of writing on fishing, and I would love to spend some time gaining some of his wisdom first hand.

The aforementioned Keith McCafferty makes this list too, for his background in fishing, and his skill as a writer.

McCafferty is the Survival and Outdoor Skills Editor of Field & Stream. He has written articles for publications as diverse as Fly Fisherman Magazine, Mother Earth News, Gray’s Sporting Journal and the Chicago Tribune, and on subjects ranging from mosquitoes to wolves to mercenaries and exorcism. Based in Montana and working on assignment around the globe–he recently spent a month in India trekking the Himalayas, fishing for golden mahseer and studying tigers–Keith has won numerous awards, including the Robert Traver Award for angling literature. He has twice been a finalist for a National Magazine Award.

I can only imagine the nuggets of wisdom I might gain on both fishing and writing spending a day fishing with McCafferty.

I should digress here for a moment and touch on Galligan’s quartet of mysteries in a bit more detail.

So far I have only devoured ‘Nail Knot’ the first book of the four featuring Ned ‘Dog’ Oglivie, and will say the experience has me chasing after the other three books; ‘The Blood Knot’, ‘The Cinch Knot; and ‘The Wind Knot’.

Sadly the books are not easily found. Well that’s not true. While released about a decade ago, most stores show them as no longer being available. I have of course found them on ebay, but postage for a book is ridiculous, doubly so out of the United States, meaning a copy that way is difficult to justify, even as a fan.

In my case I have not yet taken the plunge to purchase an eReader, although I will say it is high on my list. I figure eBooks are one way to be a something of a green consumer, since it saves on a tree dying to make the paper for a printed copy, not to mentioned the fossil fuel for the truck distributing books all over the continent, and in my car getting too, and from the bookstore.

But I digress.

Back to ‘The Nail Knot’.

Dog is a character trying to get away from everything, escaping in a battered camper. He has little, but uses finding trout as the crutch of his existence.

Ending up at Black Earth Creek a murder occurs which as Dog reluctantly, at least at first, seeking out the killer, and in the process finding he can still care about something.

At about 250-pages ‘The Nail Knot’ is just the right length for casual summer reading.

If it’s a slow day fishing, Dog’s exploits, a mystery with fishing overtones, is an ideal fill-in.

As for the author, Galligan was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, and is now a native of Madison, Wisconsin. His website details, “in addition to being a novelist and teacher, John has worked as a newspaper journalist, feature-film screenwriter, house painter, au pair, ESL teacher, cab driver, and freezer boy in a salmon cannery. He currently teaches writing at Madison Area Technical College, where his experience is enriched by students from every corner of the local and world community. He won awards as a feature journalist, sports journalist, and short story writer before settling on a career as a novelist.”

Check out the site at www.johngalligan.com



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