Still Life With Brook Trout

Reviewed by Jay Pasquantonio

Thousands of pages have been written trying to answer the fundamental question: Why do anglers fish? An established master of that art is John Gierach.

In his previous works, Gierach helped us understand our obsession with fly fishing by shining a light on his own passion. With good grace and self-deprecating humor, his essays and books have provided diversion when we could not be out on the water ourselves.

In Still Life With Brook Trout Gierach takes his art to the next level. I found myself reading this book compulsively, fervently--a change akin to what happens to my casting during an intense hatch that may not last.

In Still Life, Gierach doesn't just share his experiences with the reader; he brings us there, to experience them as if with our own senses. He brings us so close to them; we can feel those fleeting moments of clarity that we chase so obsessively on the stream.

That is some powerful magic for an author to bring to his readers.

Oregon anglers will be especially pleased to spot some familiar waters in this book. Gierach doesn't name names, but readers will recognize one of the great canyon tailwaters in the state as one of his destinations. I daresay many will even recognize the very spot where Gierach stalks a large rainbow in an eddy.

Sometimes I wish I hadn't read the book so quickly. There are times, when I've been absent from stream or lake for too long, that I wish I could borrow the stillness that Gierach provides.