Tapply, author of the Brady Coyne mystery series, and Henry David Thoreau have both lived much of their lives near the same woods and ponds just west of Boston. The stated subjects of this memoir are middle age, secret and overlooked fishing spots, animal rights, and special outdoor moments. Unstated yet apparent throughout these friendly and witty essays is Tapply's cautious relief that his nearby woods and waters are, in some respects, as wild as they were in the nineteenth century. Also apparent is his gratitude that he has friends and fishing buddies as enduring to him as Emerson and the Alcotts were to Thoreau, whose spirit saunters throughout the book. Accompanying it is Tapply's self-deprecating wit and his clear and effective advice on spinning and fly-fishing, stream craft, fly patterns, and fishing for salmon and striped bass. A must for fishing collections and a good choice for adults teaching children to fish (the insights on patience and realistic expectation are invaluable). John Rowen
From Kirkus Reviews
Fly-fishing writings from mystery novelist (Close to the Bone, 1996, etc.) and Field & Stream contributing editor Tapply that are his ``way of exploring what all those hours on the water have meant.'' Tapply became a fly-fisherman as a child in eastern Massachusetts, using his father's hand-me-down flies and one he'd invented to resemble a wide variety of eastern spring hatches, the ``Nearenuf.'' A lot of his early fishing took place at the Old Res, an abandoned reservoir where he boyishly wanted to believe there was something besides sunfish and crappies. But he also spent time at Walden Pond: ``Thoreau shacked up there,'' he writes a little scornfully. And he has no use for those devotees who ``drop a pebble onto the cairn and think Transcendental Thoughts.'' Worse are those ``animal fanatics'' at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and their ``anti-fishing crusade.'' He shrugs off as laughable their arguments that fish are traumatized physiologically or psychologically by being hooked and taken out of the water. Fish should be killed, he says, ``swiftly and humanely, taken home, prepared elegantly and eaten respectfully.'' Tapply is in safer--and pleasanter--waters when he sticks to fishing and reminiscing. He offers sage advice on how to hook kids on fishing: Keep it simple; bait their hooks and unhook their catch if they're reluctant to; don't make it into a ``lesson.'' Tapply expertly and entertainingly writes about fish, from the bluegill (``may be the perfect fish'') to the Atlantic salmon (the ``fish of a thousand casts''--a conservative ``measure of the investment required to hook one'') to fly-fishing for striped bass (``maybe the fastest growing sport along the northeast coast''). If fishing ``continues to shape and define'' him, it's made him into a dependable, interesting expert with a nasty backlash. -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.