Friday, February 1, 2008

Streamside Reading: Nick Lyons

As I mentioned in some previous posts, I was an English major in college. I spent much of that time dreading my only two possible career oppurtunities: technical writer or English teacher. Couple that existence with the long cold winters common to Logan, Utah, and you end up with a guy who likes to read as a form of escape.

It was in those days that I discovered Nick Lyons. I think I first started to take notice after reading a couple of his Seasonable Angler columns (which he no longer writes) on the back page of Fly Fisherman magazine. Lyons has a self depreciating way of describing his angling adventures (and misadventures) that is unique and never ceases to remind me that Nick, unlike some fishing writers, is a fellow human rather than some preprogrammed fish catching machine. And while that trait initially hooked me, as I studied the English language I learned something else about Nick Lyons--he is a fantastic writer.

One passage from his masterpiece, Spring Creek, sticks out in my mind as an example. Lyons is describing his morning ritual for a month spent fishing a Montana spring creek that has captured his mind and his heart. Each morning he rode with the riverkeeper in a Suburban to a predetermined spot and waited for the trout to begin rising. As he reflects on that time he describes those moments each morning as he first began fishing by saying he felt "as if the world and I were moments from being born."

If you are not familiar with Nick Lyons, give him a try. His essays are a great place to start. Confessions of Fly Fishing Addict is a collection of his Fly Fisherman columns. It is one of my favorite books to read in pieces. The Seasonable Angler is organized around the seasons of the year. A Fly Fisher's World is another great one. And Spring Creek, as I mentioned earlier, is my favorite (probably my all-time favorite fly fishing book). If you are familiar with Nick Lyons but you just haven't read him recently, I suggest reaquinting yourself.

If you don't believe me, check out what John Gierach (seemingly everyone's favorite fly fishing writer) had to say about Mr. Lyons:

"There's one way to tell a Nick Lyons fan: just hand one of us a copy of Fly Fisherman magazine. It doesn't matter how huge the trout on the cover is, or what experts are holding forth in the feature articles, we'll turn to the back page and read Nick's column, 'The Seasonable Angler,' first. Over the past fifteen years it's become a sort of ritual-first the poetry of the sport, then the technique."

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