"At the Grave of the Unknown Fisherman" is a journey through the year with America's finest fishing writer, John Gierach. The journey begins with an early spring expedition to Wyoming, where the dirt roads are still covered with a thin sheen of ice that quickly turns to mud underfoot. The conditions are so uninviting that everyone involved agrees they must be crazy to be fishing so early in the season. But, as Gierach observes, "nothing makes a fisherman happier than to have just proved that he must be crazy." Gierach's fishing year ends with a winter fly-fishing trip in the Colorado Rockies, a time of year when, Gierach says, "it's still possible to have what seems like a whole river all to yourself." Of course, the chances of catching any fish are small, a situation about which Gierach comments, "Anyone would go fishing thinking he'll catch something. It's when you go figuring you probably won't that you know you've crossed some kind of line."
In between, Gierach entertains us as always, mixing the one-liners about the fishing life with deeper insights into friendship, how we spend our time, and why nature still matters to us.
"At the Grave of the Unknown Fisherman" contains Gierach's trademark blend of humor and acuity. Comparing trout and carp, he says, "If you wanted a fish that could sip white wine and discuss Italian poetry, you'd look for a trout. If you needed a ditch dug, you'd hire a carp." Commenting on the value of a good map, he observes, "It seems like I've spent half my life trying to locate myself on maps, either just out of curiosity or to answer specific questions like Where the hell am I?' and 'How do I get out of here?' Gierach offers his opinions on theetiquette of sharing secret fishing spots, the ethics of lying to protect these spots, the secretive subculture of bamboo rods, and many other topics important to fishermen everywhere.
Above all, however, Gierach understands that the real pleasure in fishing is greater than the sum of its accessories. He describes fish, mountain streams, birch thickets, and the joy of a beautiful day outdoors with a naturalist's eye and appreciation. And he understands fishing like the sage observer that he is: Fishing is one of the few ways I know of to let go of the past, forget about the future, and live in the moment."
Keenly observed and wryly recorded as always, John Gierach's latest book of fishing adventures and misadventures is sure to be enjoyed by anyone who fishes -- and everyone who wishes he fished more.