Volcano Trout

I listened to an old ON BEING podcast called “Fishing With Mystery”  and it made me want to grab my fishing gear and head out for a few hours.

Well, I didn’t go out. It’s really cold and the couch is really comfortable and I don’t have a new trout license. But what I did do was check out some books by the program guest, James Prosek. On the show blog, there’s also a post called “Fishing as Metaphor” by Rob McGinley Myers where he talks about the ideas in the Prosek episode.

Who is James Prosek? The New York Times has called James Prosek “the Audubon of the fishing world,” and in his book, Fly-Fishing the 41st, he describes an adventure he went on that began in his hometown of Easton, Connecticut.

Fly-Fishing the 41st starts off this way: “One day, I left in a straight line from home at 41 Kachele Street, east along the 41st Parallel, following my passion for fish. It was a journey not only away from home, but toward it; which is the beauty of traveling in a circle, and the irony of adventure.”  He circumnavigated the globe along the 41st parallel, traveling through Spain, Greece, Turkey, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, China, and Japan. Along the way he shares his fishing experiences and a bunch of eccentric and memorable characters he met up with on the journey.

Maybe you’re not a fishing fan, but the it’s as much about the people and places as it is about the fish he catches. And like many people who fish, he’s also concerned about clean water issues and the conservation of fish habitat and species.


If Prosek is the Audubon for fish, it is because of what you find in his 2010 book The Complete Angler: A Connecticut Yankee Follows in the Footsteps of Walton and  Trout: An Illustrated History with their detailed and bright watercolors.

Check out his official website.

I like some of the bio info I found on this artist, angler and author.  He lives two doors down from his boyhood home. He still fishes in the same pond he frequented as a kid. He paints in a building that he has known for a long time.

Bluegill Sunfish

On Creative Spaces (an NPR series that explores the studios, offices, and hideaways of artists), they did a segment on the one-room schoolhouse that Prosek renovated as a studio. It was built in 1850. He saw it first as it was transported on a truck bed. It was relocated to Prosek’s own street and a house was built around the schoolhouse and eventually Prosek bought both. The studio is described as “somewhere between a bachelor pad and a boyhood fort” that is about the size of a two-car garage. He has a pot-bellied stove and a sleeping loft. It’s made of planks of chestnut wood and has six low-hung windows so that it has lots of natural light.

As long as winter hangs on, I might just leave the fishing tackle in the garage, and get out my watercolor box and field guide.

Excerpt from The Complete Angler (DVD)

“When Yale student James Prosek convinced the university to permit him to write a senior essay on Izaak Walton, author of the 17th century classic, The Compleat Angler, he had not yet read Walton’s book. When he did, he found it as much about a philosophy of life as about fishing. Prosek’s “research,” which took him to Ireland and England to fish the same rivers and streams as had Walton, is captured in this very personal documentary that celebrates nature, fishing, and most importantly, the contemplative life of the “complete” fisherman. He discovers the art of “dapping,” a method of fly-fishing still practiced as it was in Walton’s day, 350 years earlier. He fishes streams flowing under and around London—streams once central to water meadows, but now surrounded by parking lots and high-rise apartment buildings. And he makes his way into the world of private river-ways, fished only by the upper-class English gentry who control the land through which the rivers flow. With lords and princes, as well as with fishing guides and boatmen, he discovers a common bond among anglers. It is a bond that erases social barriers among those for whom angling is a way to discover the flow of life as well as the flow of waters.”

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