Fly-Fishing for Sharks: An American Journey

Richard Louv, Author Simon & Schuster $26 (496p) ISBN 978-0-684-83698-0
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. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/03/2000
Release date: 04/01/2000
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