William Washabaugh - Deep Trout

Oxford International Publishers
ISBN 1-85973-398-0

We need serious books about fishing. We need books that treat fishing as a worthy subject for social history, cultural history, all that. Therefore, I suggest you take a look at a book I don’t much like but which at least gives seriousness a good try. It has one of the worst titles ever invented—Deep Trout—and a second title, “Angling in Popular Culture,” that is mostly inaccurate, because the book is about neither angling nor popular culture but is rather an academic theorization of the culture of American fly-fishing.

There are things here that will make you want to hurl it across the room: jargon—project, seclusive, valorization, hierophany, transitivity, the Other; assertions without proof; questionable history and generalization (Hampshire chalk as all of British water, for example); cutesy intellectual pissings-in-the-wind, like (unconvincing) connections among Santa Claus/fly-fishing/bourgeoisie.

But—but, the guy (or is it guy and woman? what does “with Catherine Washabaugh” mean?) has made a real attempt to talk about something other than flies and tactics. He’s tried to address the question of why a certain kind of angler self-identifies in certain ways—a highly respectable question, I think. He muses about internal contradictions in fishing. He brings a fresh, if (to me) blurry eye to some icons.
So read the book. Then throw it across the room.