On the surface, fishing is all about casting, catching and communing with nature, but on a deeper level, the sport is filled with mysteries and contradictions. Why do people fish? How does a desire to return to nature go hand in hand with high-tech gadgetry? How is it possible to see other people's fishing as despoiling nature but not one's own? What does the long and complex history of the sport reveal? Like so much else in life, what fishing says about society and the people in it -- both past and present -- is hidden from view and almost never discussed. This book is a considered foray into the leisure sport of fishing by an avid fisherman who is also a professional anthropologist. Those who enjoy the sport tend to extol its naturalness - fishing enables them to commune with nature at its most primeval. However, if it's called natural, it's probably a great spot to trawl for clues as to how people manage larger cosmic issues. ‘Call it natural,' the author quips, ‘and the anthropologists will come.' Is fishing an uncomplicated activity, or is it deeply meaningful? What does it say about culture? Is the recent resurgence of interest in the sport simply a reflection of more disposable incomes and more leisure time? What is the connection between fishing and Santa Claus? fishing and flamenco? And finally, what is the best way to kiss a trout? Unlike most books on fishing, which focus on the tale or on ‘how-to', this book shows that there is much more lurking beneath the surface than fish.
Table of Contents
1 Fly-Fishing for Authenticity 2 The Taste for Trout in Early Modem Europe 3 The Frontier of Fly-Fishing 4 The Gentle American Angler 5 Gentlemen Prefer Trout 6 Trout Limited 7 Kissing Trout 8 The Ironic Anglers 9 Jedediah and the Fat Man
William Washabaugh Professor of Anthropology, University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee