Cowboy Trout: Western Fly Fishing as If It Matters

Cowboy Trout: Western Fly Fishing as If It Matters

by Paul Schullery
     
 

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Fly fishing intersects western history in so many ways that it is surprising that more writers—besides historians—have not sensed its rhetorical and scholarly opportunities. As fly fishing's practitioners grow in economic power, political reach, ecological awareness, and clarity of need, those intersections will only become more compelling.

In the fine

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Overview

Fly fishing intersects western history in so many ways that it is surprising that more writers—besides historians—have not sensed its rhetorical and scholarly opportunities. As fly fishing's practitioners grow in economic power, political reach, ecological awareness, and clarity of need, those intersections will only become more compelling.

In the fine tradition of angling books that celebrate fly fishing for the way it invites readers into unfettered ecological settings and connects them to the wonder of rivers, Paul Schullery's masterful Cowboy Trout raises to a new level of power the old saying that there is more to fishing than the catching of fish. The heightened sense of a wild place—not merely of the water but of a whole landscape-has turned out to be fly fishing's greatest gift to the West and to those who pursue fish in its rugged embrace.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780972152273
Publisher:
Montana Historical Society Press
Publication date:
04/01/2006
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.90(d)

Read an Excerpt

On July 3, 1889, a young Rudyard Kipling, just then observing, writing, and fishing his way across the United States, stepped from the train in Livingston, Montana, which he quickly judged to be "a grubby little hamlet full of men without clean collars and perfectly unable to get through one sentence unadorned by three oaths." But he loved the countryside, especially the Yellowstone River, which, "hidden by the water willows, lifted up its voice and sang a little song to the mountains." Later that day, as he was riding the park branch line south through Paradise Valley, a sympathetic stranger saw him eyeing the river and told him to "Lie off at Yankee Jim's if you want good fishing." Kipling could not resist.
"Yankee Jim" George ran a toll road through the canyon now named for him, at the south end of Paradise Valley, and did a brisk business with tourists on their way to and from Yellowstone Park. He also took in the occasional guest at his "log hut" overlooking the river. Kipling described him as "a picturesque old man with a talent for yarns that Ananias might have envied," but happily announced that he did not exaggerate the qualities of the river on those hot, sunny days.
Rudyard Kipling was on his way from India to England and was soon to become one of the planet's most celebrated figures. He may seem anything but a typical man of his time, but in one way he was. Among serious fly fishers, he would have pretty much represented the average guy, and his tackle would have revealed just how cosmopolitan that average guy was.
His rod was probably made of "Calcutta" bamboo from India, split and glued into an excellent casting instrument by one of many British or American rodmakers. His line was almost certainly silk from India or Persia, plaited to perfection in some European or American tackle factory. His leaders would have been silkworm gut from Italy, Sicily, Portugal, or (most likely) Spain. His flies could have contained feathers and furs from six continents, tied on Irish, English, or Norwegian hooks, in patterns representing several centuries of British fly-pattern theorizing.
Kipling demonstrated that quite early in what we now might think of as the "frontier days," fly fishing in the "Wild West" was facilitated by a global trade, numerous multinational industries, and the efforts of individual laborers, craftsmen, and artisans in a dozen or more countries. Even in Kipling's time, when you fly fished the West, you brought the world with you.

Meet the Author

Paul Schullery, a former director of The American Museum of Fly Fishing, is the author, co-author, or editor of more than thirty books on natural history, conservation, and sport. His previous fly-fishing related books include American Fly Fishing: A History (1987); Royal Coachman: The Lore and Legends of Fly Fishing (1998); and Shupton's Fancy: A Tale of the Fly Fishing Obsession (1995). Paul has received numerous awards and honors, including an honorary doctorate of letters from Montana State University, and the Wallace Stegner Award from the University of Colorado Center of the American West. He lives in Bozeman, Montana.

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