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Shin Deep: A Fly Fisher's Love For Moving Water Paperback – August 25, 2008
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About the Author
In 2002, Chris Hunt won the prestigious Dolly Connelly Award for Excellence in Environmental Journalism. Over his 13-year career as a journalist spanning three Western states, Hunt was recognized as one of the best natural resources reporters and writers in the region, and he collected a cache of awards from the likes of the Associated Press, the Society of Professional Journalists, the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Association and the Idaho Press Club. In 2005, he left the newspaper business to advocate for the wild and native fish on which much of his writing focused. Today, he works for Trout Unlimited, where he directs media efforts for the coldwater fisheries conservation organization's Public Lands Initiative. He lives in Idaho Falls with his wife, Elisabeth, daughter Delaney, son Cameron and his untrained bird dog, Hannah.
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Chris begins the book, Shin Deep: A Fly Fisher's Love for Living Water, with a disclaimer: "It turns out I'm not terribly introspective when I fish. This isn't a recent revelation, or anything. It's just important for you to know, so you won't expect me to prop up the pages of this book with profound nuggets of wisdom I've somehow managed to acquire from my time spent on the water."
At first glance one might assume that this is the case as Chris crisply but simply describes the joys of fishing throughout North America for multiple species of fish including rainbows, browns, brook trout, bull trout, cutthroat trout, salmon, crappie, smallmouth bass, white fish and pike. After all, we are talking about the guy who left his box of flies at the lodge while fishing in Alaska and had to go on quest while on Prince of Wales Island to try to save what could have been a debacle of a day. I actually had a good laugh as Chris describes humbly begging someone for flies stating that he "very nearly dropped to a knee and swore fealty to this guy. Desperation does weird things to you, you know."
But don't let Chris fool you. This book is packed with plenty of depth. I'll give you a few examples. First and foremost, Chris repeatedly writes about the importance of protecting the precious creeks and rivers that hold wild trout and other fish. The theme of conservation resonates throughout this book and makes you want to do more to preserve these wild places and finite resources for posterity.
Also prevalent in the book is the theme of family. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Chris' stories about fishing with his son, Cameron, who he lovingly calls "Chief" and his older daughter Delaney. I don't want to spoil any of the specifics of these touching stories. However, I will say that while Chris pursues his fishing passion with great fervor, it is evident to me that he does not let his addiction supplant what is truly most important in his life, his family.
Last but certainly not least, in a nation where it is quickly becoming taboo to mention God or religion, I appreciated Chris' statements about God and faith in his chapter about fishing for brook trout for the first time in the Shenandoah National Park:
"Now, I'm not a particularly religious fellow. I believe in God ¯ how could a fly fisher not have some faith in a higher power? . . . I believe there's a grand plan for all of us and all the critters with which we share the planet. But I'm no zealot ¯ the more organized a religion gets, the less tolerant its practitioners become, I believe.
But at that moment, cradling a seven-inch wild Appalachian brook trout in my meaty palm, I openly thanked God. For there might not be a more beautiful creation than a wild brook trout hooked firmly in the jaw and pulled from crystal waters.
It's a moment I'll never forget."
Only shin deep? I think not.
Shin Deep is an excellent read for the simple fishing stories and for its underlying deeper themes. Without reservation, I highly recommend it to anyone who loves the fly rod, wild rivers, and wild fish.