Cowboy Trout: Western Fly Fishing As If It Matters
NEW 'COWBOY TROUT' BOOK A FLY FISHING MASTERPIECE
Much has been written on the history of fly fishing in the American West, but a new book on its influence on western culture published by the Montana Historical Society Press seems destined to become a classic. In Cowboy Trout: Western Fly Fishing As If It Matters, author Paul Schullery interweaves the stories of the great anglers of the past with stories that describe how fly fishing continues to influence people in the West today.
Make no mistake, this is a great fish story, but even readers who have never picked up a fly rod can learn from the lessons drawn by Schullery, a Montanan who has worked and fished in Yellowstone National Park much of his life. Cowboy Trout examines the modern emergence of fly fishing as a political, commercial, and even spiritual presence in the lives of many westerners.
Nick Lyons, author of Full Creel and many other influential books on fly fishing, says the Schullery book takes a critical look at some of the "sacred cows" of the sport. "Schullery nips at Norman Maclean and Edward Hewitt, offers memorable glimpses of important fly fishers, and uniquely, amply, explores fly-fishing's western tradition," Lyons said. "The book is not to be missed." Amply illustrated with photographs and other artwork, Cowboy Trout offers an interesting glimpse into Montana and the West with every turn of the page.
In 1889, British author Rudyard Kipling on a fly fishing expedition on the Yellowstone River in Montana took note of the flies used by local fishermen. "If ever any man works the Western trout-streams, he would do well to bring out with him the dingiest flies he possesses," Kipling wrote. "The native laugh at the tiny English hooks, but they hold, and duns and drabs and sober greys seem to tickle the aesthetic tastes of the trout."
Schullery holds that fly fishing has had an influence on people's attitudes about the wonders of the West. "There abides in the western fishing scene a fresher sense of a frontier. In some strange way, this western scene can still be imagined by its inhabitants, local or visitor, as something new, even as something raw," he writes. And thinking about the sport, Schullery writes, "just makes the fishing better."
Schullery is former director of the American Museum of Fly-Fishing, and author, co-author, or editor of more than 60 books on natural history, conservation, and sport. His many honors include the Wallace Stegner Award from the University of Colorado Center of the American West. The 288-page book sells for $17.95 paperback and can be ordered directly from the Montana Historical Society museum store.