Redfish, Bluefish, Sheefish, Snook Fly fishing book reviews 

Redfish, Bluefish, Sheefish, Snook
E. Donnall Thomas, Jr.
Softbound:   256 pp.
Skyhorse Publishing   $24.95
ISBN 1-60239-119-X

Redfish, Bluefish, Sheefish, Snookmaybe you don't fish that many species of fish, maybe you don't travel far to get your fishing in, or maybe you've been visiting too many tourist shops--but this won't stop you from thoroughly enjoying Thomas' narrations about the dozen's of species of fish that parade themselves across the high seas and into the shoals.

Now, let me make it clear right away --I wouldn't know the difference between a snook and a shoe. And some of the fish species that Thomas entertains us with are difficult for me to pronounce without revealing myself as a trout monger. But this didn't stop me from smiling my way through his book on the way to a brook trout vacation. Granted, nothing surprising nor huge happened to me during my trip, except for a few lost flies. But we can all dream of bigger fish, bigger adventurers, bigger stories.

Thankfully, Thomas isn't afraid to talk about his fishing shortcomings, as well. He freely admits his inexperience with shark during a shark hunt (who can blame him). And he has no problem professing his ignorance of carp. Sometimes, though, a writer has more interesting things to say about the first fish than the thousandth fish.

Even though some of these fish are brutes, and even though some of them will bite your head off if you aren't careful, Thomas stays grounded. He makes you feel that the primary thing standing between  you and a boated monster of a fish is an attitude--not expensive tackle and boats. Granted, barracuda and shark might require a bigger dose of attitude.

Another thing I like about this book is Thomas' ability to balance his desire to get all the fish facts (after all, I might want to fish tarpon some day) with our desire to simply sit back and be told exciting yarns about lands and waters and fish that are sometimes better kept at a safe distance. Sometimes you just want to be put into a scene, like a Joseph Conrad novel.

The moral of the story--the ocean is weird. Be careful, but not too careful. Find a good book and read it by a fire. Thomas's book will do just fine.

--Toney J. Sisk


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