Lead into Gold: A Review of Kenn Oberrecht’s “The Angler’s Guide to Jigs and Jigging”(1982)
People sometimes ask me “Hank, why do you read these old fishing books?” My answer is “Shakespeare.” Awkward silence generally follows, or someone accuses me of being a professor.
Let me explain (that’s what professors do, after all). First, there is no such thing as an “old book.” Every book is new the first time we read it. And just like any other book, we ease into it, fit our mind to its author’s style in the early pages, slip into ideas and characters that it presents, etc. We all remember the first time we read Hamlet in high school. It was like learning a new language. If you stuck it out you were rewarded with a mighty drama about choice and regret.
Second, there is no such thing as a “fishing book.“ That’s just a phrase we use to describe writings composed by people who spend a lot of time holding fishing tackle around water. What we call “fishing books” are really just books that explain how a person thinks through a specific type of problem. The central premise of every fishing book is basically “How can I trick and catch a living animal that cannot directly be seen (most of the time).” As such, fishing books are really books about the art of tricking an aquatic animal. Or, if you prefer, books written by people who think too much about fishing.
Does thinking ever get “old?” I hope not. And what would life be without choices, or regrets? I wouldn’t want to know. For one, the fishing stories would be few and far between.