Joe and Me: An Education In Fishing And Friendship

Joe and Me: An Education In Fishing And Friendship

by James Prosek
     
 

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When James Prosek was just fifteen, a ranger named Joe Haines caught him fishing without a permit in a stream near Prosek's home in Connecticut. But instead of taking off with his fishing buddy, James put down his rod and surrendered. It was a move that would change his life forever. Expecting a small fine and a lecture, James instead received enough knowledge

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Overview

When James Prosek was just fifteen, a ranger named Joe Haines caught him fishing without a permit in a stream near Prosek's home in Connecticut. But instead of taking off with his fishing buddy, James put down his rod and surrendered. It was a move that would change his life forever. Expecting a small fine and a lecture, James instead received enough knowledge about fishing and the great outdoors to last a lifetime.

The story of an unlikely friendship, Joe and Me is a book for those who remember the mentor in their life, the one who changed the way they look at the world.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Prosek, now a senior at Yale, gained a reputation as a naturalist when in 1996 at age 20, he published Trout: An Illustrated History. In this memoir, which is accompanied by his watercolors, he recounts the experiences he had as a teenager after he was caught fishing without a permit in a Connecticut reservoir by game warden Joe Haines. Instead of sending the boy to juvenile court, Haines decided to show Prosek that one can catch just as many fish in legal waters. The two were soon fishing and hunting together, and Haines was teaching his young friend about nature and such practical matters as how to kill and butcher a bull, how to make lead fishing weights and how to dig for mussels and clams. Prosek's eagerness to learn from Joe is engaging, especially when he thinks about what he wishes for his education and realizes that Joe, with no formal instruction beyond high school, can gain wisdom simply by observing the world. Although Prosek's impressionistic watercolors are appealing, his graceless prose and wooden dialogue hamper his attempt to portray Joe as memorable. (June)
Kirkus Reviews
Sweet, innocent, if not particularly artful, recollections of fishing with a local master.

At the age of 15, Prosek (Trout: An Illustrated History, not reviewed) got caught poaching, but he also got a second chance and a lesson in life from the ranger who bagged him: Joe Haines. Prosek was nobody's fool even at that vulnerable age—at least as he remembers it seven years later—but he understood that he had plenty to learn from the seasoned fisherman. Haines sensed that Prosek was a kindred angling spirit, so he brought him to small private ponds and streams, beachside for stripers, to the salmon run at Pulaski, to ice-fishing spots, imparting a notion of how to be an outdoorsman with style. Casting a wider net, Haines took Prosek crabbing, showed him how to butcher a bull, took him to a club to hunt for pheasant, hand-fashioned fishing weights with him. The lessons were not just about secret glory holes, though, but about what it means to be tried-and-true; about generosity, responsibility, humor, curiosity, appreciation; about having a warm heart and doing the right thing. Prosek can be a tad priggish (crude jokes offend him), and the writing displays a callowness that fails to wring from a couple of the narratives the power they harbor; this is particularly evident in a story about fishing a lake from which a drowned boy is being pulled. Much of the book is engaging, though, as Prosek describes for us a lost world of sportsfolk—relaxed, comradely, reflective, perceptive—from which he wisely decides to take his cues.

Emanating from the pages is a genuine fondness the young man and his elder have for each other's company. Prosek, now a senior at Yale, may well be on his way to becoming a fine writer of the outdoors.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061873140
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
10/13/2009
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
208
Sales rank:
1,050,809
File size:
0 MB

Read an Excerpt

It's not like I had never done it before. In fact, poaching had almost become an art to me. I prided myself on being discreet and having successfully evaded the law for years. The Easton Reservoir, owned by the Bridgeport Hydraulic Company, is just a short walk from my home, and it was where I spent most afternoons fishing. Along with the Aspetuck and Saugatuck reservoirs, Easton was routinely patrolled by wardens whose job it was to keep anyone who was a threat to water quality off the property. That apparently meant anyone who even went near it.

At fifteen, the thought of getting caught breaking the law was both frightening and exhilarating. I was well aware of the danger of fishing illegally, and although I'd never been caught, I had mapped out every possible means of escape. Stone foundations, left from when the water company tore down old houses, would make ideal hiding places. The stone walls that crisscrossed the woods, remnants of farmers' attempts to rid the soil of rocks and keep their cows fenced in, would be good for ducking behind at the last minute. Large sycamores and sugar maples with low branches would be ideal for climbing if I felt that the best way to escape was up. I had found or cut trails in every direction, sought out undercut banks where I could crawl if I was trapped against the water, and even entertained the idea of swimming to the other side of the reservoir or to one of the two small islands in the middle if there was no alternative. But the danger of getting caught was only part of the attraction of fishing where I did. More than the thrill, it was the prospect of catching a large trout that kept me going back, and that same prospect led me from thefamiliar Easton Reservoir to the Aspetuck, where I found myself one afternoon standing on the lip of the dam, next to my friend Stephen, in the pouring rain.

We had run with our equipment through the woods, our ponchos trailing behind us like great green capes in the heavy April rain. Exposed to the road and bordered by a swamp, the dam was undoubtedly the worst possible place a poacher could find himself. I hesitated before moving into the open, crouching against the wind to tie a lure on my line.

Copyright © 1997 by James Prosek

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