Headwaters: the Adventures, Obsession and Evolution of a Fly Fisherman

By Dylan Tomine

Dylan Tomine takes us to the far reaches of the planet-- Christmas Island , the Russian Arctic. Argentine Patagonia, Japan, Cuba, British Columbia-- in search of fish and adventure, with keen insight, a strong stomach and plenty of laughs along the way. Closer to home, he wades deeper into his beloved steelhead rivers of the Pacific Northwest and the politics of saving them. Tomine celebrates the joy―and pain―of exploration, fatherhood and the comforts of home waters from a vantage point well off the beaten path. Headwaters traces the evolution of a lifelong angler’s priorities from fishing to the survival of the fish themselves. It is a book of remarkable obsession, environmental awareness shaped by experience, and hope for the future. 6x9 inches, 256 pgs.


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“What is fly fishing? Everything.” Anglers will find Tomine’s book a spirited defense of that thesis. -- Kirkus Reviews

Tomine delivers a work that informs and moves in equal measure. This is sure to reel in readers. --Publishers Weekly

Fisherman Tomine (Closer to the Ground) combines incandescent personal reflections and environmental advocacy in this moving paean to fly fishing. “Fishing was never a sport... for me,” Tomine writes at the outset, rather, it’s “who I am.” What follows is a vivid portrait of a man in pursuit of a lifelong obsession. As he relates, his “steelhead jones” had its hooks in him early, during his childhood fishing for trout in Oregon in the 1970s and, later, as a teen “too busy trying to catch my first steelhead” to notice girls. Arriving at adulthood, he recounts such adventures as catching a 90-pound giant trevally bonefish, and embarking on an expedition to the Russian Arctic—where the abundance of trout was rivaled only by the region’s mosquitos. Later chapters witness his evolution from acolyte to conservationist; in one section, he memorably recalls screening the conservationist documentary Artifishal to a sold-out crowd in Japan, where the “culture [is] built around the eating of fish.” Mixing good-natured humor with a reverence of the world around him—“It starts with the fish itself. The sleek, chrome beauty... carrying all the strength and fecundity of the sea to inland waters”—Tomine delivers a work that informs and moves in equal measure. This is sure to reel in readers. (Apr.)-- Publishers Weekly

. . . a sparkling, elegiac book. -- The Wall Street Journal

A die-hard fly fisherman reflects on the glories of angling and his role in diminishing the natural world.

“Fishing was never a sport, a pastime or hobby for me. It was, and continues to be, who I am.” So writes Tomine, who has been fishing the Skykomish and other northwestern rivers since he was a kid. He was so obsessed that on Sundays, his single mother, a graduate student, would take him to the river and, as he cast his lines, do her homework while waiting in a parking area nearby. In this collection of his writings in sports and fishing journals, Tomine recounts some of his excellent adventures. In one shaggy dog story, he recalls being in a van in Russia in which was hidden a block of Swedish cheese so stinky that it ignited a pitched battle over which of the fishing adventurers had farted. In a less unpleasantly odorous tale, the author praises an Argentine barbecue during which his plate held “a significant fraction—like one fourth to one half—of an entire animal.” Tomine’s principal goal is to bag steelhead trout, of which he writes with affection and intelligence. His principal opponent throughout is a bureaucratic system that stocks the rivers of the Pacific Northwest with hatchery-bred trout, which crowd out wild fish even with the removal of dams on those streams. “If the point of dam removal is wild salmon recovery,” he asks, “why would we spend millions of dollars on something that works counter to the point?” Tomine ponders how climate change is affecting fish populations, wild and hatchery-grown, and his own role as a world traveler in putting down a heavy carbon footprint on the land. Mostly, however, the pieces are easily digested celebrations of the easy freedom of being on a river, rod and reel in hand.

“What is fly fishing? Everything.” Anglers will find Tomine’s book a spirited defense of that thesis. -- Kirkus Reviews


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