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Lyons likes to fish. He likes to fish long and hard, short and delicate. He likes to fish for all manner of quarry (though the brown trout is his downfall), and he will happily fish a spinning rod when the wicked, slender fly rod won't do. And when he's not streamside, he likes to fish in his head, read about fishing, paw through his fly boxes, dream of the honey holes. Lyons just slipped past the 60 mark, recently emerged from a hospital stay, and this collection of his articles and essays is a bit more reflective than his earlier books; the humor is still there, the wit sharp, but now he's taking a bead on why fishing has given him such pleasure, enthralled him so, made him, in a word, happy. In the long run, that joy may be ineffable, yet two aspects of his avocation continue to rise to the surface: Fishing makes him think, puzzle out a stretch of water, get intimate with the currents, eddies, and backwaters; and he deeply loves the context—not just the history and literature and paraphernalia, but even more the riverine environment, "the things that led us here in the first place: simplicity, untrampled bogs and banks, sweet silences, and perfectly exquisite beauty." While Lyons would run screaming from the suggestion, there is more than just a touch of the graybeard's wisdom here; when he talks of Roderick Haig-Brown's books, their "high-level of quiet instruction, inconspicuouly offered," the same could be applied to this book, teachings that shape the soul of the fisherman.
For Lyons, fishing is a matter of the heart, and to fishing he has blissfully lost his.