A Good Winter Read
Elliott Wynne

On winter days when it's three degrees and snowing, a good book can put you on the river. Sitting by the fireplace and opening a book can be a lot more rewarding than knocking the ice out of your guides. Moreover, a book can put you on a beautiful trout stream when you're stuck in the catfish country.

As a kid growing up in Oklahoma I would come to Colorado in the summer and go fly fishing with my father. I remember how difficult it was waiting for each and every summer. One day it was shortened when my father handed me a copy of John Gierach's Sex, Death, and Fly Fishing, which I read immediately, ignoring my homework.

John Gierach's works are all great reads. A few of my favorites are Trout Bum, Fishing Bum, Fly Fishing Small Streams, and his latest, At the Grave of the Unknown Fisherman.

John Gierach is a local writer living in Lyons so it is fun to read stories about certain streams and lakes in our area. There have been many times that I have gotten out my maps and tried to figure out where he was catching 18 inch Browns in Rocky Mountain National Park. I still haven't found the Browns, so maybe there was a little embellishment here which is natural for any fishermen

While it's hard to beat John Gierach, Robert Traver and Roderick L. Haig-Brown are certainly near the top of my list. Robert Traver was a Judge from Michigan who spent the summers fishing in Michigan's Upper Peninsula for small Brookies. His first fishing book Trout Madness: Being a Dissertation on the Symptoms and Pathology of This Incurable Disease by One of Its Victims and Trout Magic are two of my favorite books. I have read them many times, laughing at the same stories over and over. In the front of Trout Magic is Traver's Testment of a Fisherman. I think his observation about why I fish is simply the best I've ever read. By the way, Traver didn't catch a fish over 12 inches for two summers and was extremely proud of this fact.

Roderick L. Haig-Brown was a Judge from Campbell River, British Columbia who wrote Fishermen's Winter, Fishermen's Spring, Fishermen's Summer, and Fishermen's Fall. I highly recommend all of these books. Roderick was brilliant fishing writer and conservationist with ideas and insights into many realms of fly fishing.

Another area of interest is instructional or scientific writings. Such books can help you understand what you were doing wrong last summer. If you need help with Caddis Flies, Gray LaFontaine wrote the bible on this subject, Caddisflies. If you want to learn about all aquatic insects you should pick up Dave Whitlock's Aquatic Trout Foods. This is a magnificent resource for aquatic insects with great illustrations by Dave and information on trout patterns that work for certain trout foods. Dave Hughes is another informative author with books such as Essential Trout Flies and How to Fish Small Streams. They are informative without being dry. A relatively new book from Mike Lawson is Spring Creeks. It's a terrific book loaded with valuable information that took him 12 years to write.

For Christmas this year I received Trout and Salmon by Robert J. Behnke, illustrated by Joseph R. Tomelleri. This book is a treasure everyone should have in their library with the history, biology and conservation in a 350 page masterpiece. Mr. Behnke is arguably the country's top authority on trout and salmon.

Thomas Jefferson said "knowledge is light" and for fly fishers knowledge is catching more fish. I remember the days I would run to the water trying to make as many casts as possible, paying no attention to anything around me. Now that I am older and wiser I walk to the river and sit and watch, trying to figure out nature. I make the casts I used to and catch twice the fish because I have some idea what nature is doing. Reading helps me learn from great people who can fish rings around me. Basically what I'm saying is if you want to catch more fish you have to learn how, and reading is the easy way to learn.