Review: Inside Out

By Scott Richmond

The first question to ask when considering a new book is: Do I care enough to spend the money and take the time to read this book?So here are three reasons you might care about Inside Out by Jason Atkinson.

  1. If you enjoy stories about someone else's fishing and hunting in Oregon, you'll probably like this book.
  2. If you care about the biological/political decisions that affect Oregon fishing, you should read this book because the author was recently appointed to be a Commissioner for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife; you might want to know where he's coming from before you go to that hearing about fishing regs.
  3. A lot of the people Atkinson goes fishing with have appeared in Westfly interviews, including Joel La Follete, Dean Finnerty, Frank Moore, Mia Sheppard, and Guido Rahr. With all those familiar faces and voices, the book feels like a Westfly Rondi!

What It's About

In this short book, Atkinson takes you on seven hunting and fly fishing trips (mostly fly fishing) in Oregon. You'll float the Grande Ronde and John Day for steelhead, hunt ducks on the lower Columbia, chase salmon on the Elk, track elk in the Ochocos, consider the merits of fish refuges, and find an ambulance for a remote town.

These stories, however, are not simple tales of who caught/shot what. Each chapter is a vehicle for highlighting different approaches to managing--to stewarding--our natural resources. Hence Inside Out's subtitle, Stories of Oregon's Stewards, Unsung Heroes of the Land.

If you're looking for a hard-hitting polemic about the evils of cattle ranching and logging, or Deliverance-style fear-mongering about rural people, this is not your book. And if you're seeking a wing-nut diatribe that demonizes those horrible obstructionist preservationist elitist fly fishers, this is also not your book.

Without sanctimony or preaching, Atkinson shows the relationship between politics, land use, conservation, and recreation. He goes beyond self-seeking polarization to seek balanced solutions. The subtext might read, "anger and confrontation rarely accomplish anything."

Bottom Line

inside Out is a good read and reveals the mind-set of a guy who will affect Oregon fly fishing for years to come.

Scott Richmond is Westfly's creator and Executive Director. He is the author of eight books on Oregon fly fishing, including Fishing Oregon's Deschutes River (second edition).