Monday, February 2, 2015

Professors of Trout

In the course of writing Downstream (my book on brook trout) I did a lot of research about trout and fly-fishing.  Thankfully, it turns out I'm not the only academic interested in brook trout and fly rods.  Far from it! 

Really, this shouldn't be too surprising.  Fly-fishing requires us to look attentively, seeing past the surface of the water in order to discern what is happening deeper down.  Far more than simply catching fish, fly-fishing is a practice of reading water as though it were a natural text.

Several authors, professors, and fellow-thinkers have been helping me to deepen my literacy in these streams of thought lately. Among them are Kurt Fausch, Douglas Thompson, and David Suchoff.

Fausch is one of the world's authorities on trout biology and ecology.  I had the privilege of reading a draft of Fausch's forthcoming book, For The Love Of Rivers, (see the book trailer here) and I highly recommend it.  It is a lovely marriage of science and lyrical writing.  You'll learn a lot about the life of rivers, written by a remarkable writer who loves them deeply.

Thompson's book, The Quest For The Golden Trout is next on my to-read list, but I've already snuck some glimpses at it and I am eager to get to it.  I'll post more about it when I'm done.  Meanwhile, check out his webpage

I discovered Suchoff recently when I saw one of his students fly-fishing for bonefish in Belize.  I teach a January-term field ecology course for Augustana College in Guatemala and Belize.  One morning I looked out over the intertidal flat and saw a young woman casting a heavy fly in turtle grass on South Water Caye.  I ran into her later on shore and she told me about a terrific class Suchoff teaches at Colby College in Maine.  He teaches them the literature of fly-fishing, arranges professional instruction, then takes his students fishing in California, and teaches them to write about it.  You can find him on Twitter, too.

One of the joys of research is that it gives me the excuse to write to strangers who share my interests and ask them to teach me what they know.  My acquaintance with two of these professors is quite new, but already I've learned from them.  The third, Fausch, I've known for long enough that he reviewed a draft of my book and kindly pointed out a few errors before I made them permanent in print. 

These are, as I've said, just a few of the university professors who study trout.  Are you another?  I'd love to hear from you if so.