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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.
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
|The Drowned Boy||55|
Posted January 26, 2000
joe and me is a excellent book if you love to fish and have that one in a life time freind. and if not its a must read to show you what you are missing out on .there is nothing better than fishing and freindship except fishing with a freind or a good book like joe and me.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.