Every now and then, one encounters a book wholly without pretense, affectation, or formulaic writing bent on mega sales and burgeoning profits. So it is with Kathy Scott’s just released, Brook Trout Forest.
When Ron Barch, friend, bamboo fly rod maker, and publisher of Brook Trout Forest, told me about the book and its author, I was eager to read it. First, it’s rare to pick up a book that mirrors an author’s diary of sorts—a day-to-day recounting of her life and the crafting of two special bamboo fly rods she and her partner created in their quest for Labrador brook trout. Second, it’s not often that the construction of fly rods becomes the organizing theme and metaphor for a book, but so it is for Brook Trout Forest.
To read the book is to enter the Maine woods, the very location of the modest cabin where she writes and from which she volunteers at the local middle school and there sponsors a fly fishing club. As descriptively wonderful as are Scott’s word portraits of the Maine woods, her selfless and inquisitive personality elevates the book to the uniquely memorable. Somehow, Scott brings us into her life as a sort of close companion, in so doing moving our hearts with the entire range of her life and passion for the conservation and improvement of the natural world she knows and loves so well.
And, then, there’s the bamboo. The complexity, history, and flat-out lore associated with bamboo rod making is one thing. The names, the tapers, the variations on conventional modes of construction and finish impress and intrigue. Equally striking, though, is the apparent collegiality of bamboo rod makers. The patience and care required to create these works of art are striking—not days, not weeks, but months of fastidious craftsmanship are the norm. Through it all, come tips and encouragements from fellow bamboo rod makers. My respect for bamboo rods and more important, for the artisans who birth them, swelled as I read the book.
Finally, there’s the matter of brook trout. As a fly fishing guide who thrills to the battle of skyrocketing chrome steelhead valued in pounds, I found myself fascinated with Scott’s finding excitement and gratification in bringing to hand sub-ten inch brook trout on the fly. It’s about the fish, but at the same time, it’s not. Scott teaches us to take Nature as it comes—to embrace it in sum. The sounds, the beauty, the very wholeness of what we call Nature combine to make memorable what otherwise might well be a passing fancy. Then, too, as Scott stalks, casts, and presents the fly, we big fish fanatics begin to understand.
So, I commend to the book to your attention. Anyone who loves fly fishing, fine rods, and Nature’s handiwork, in this instance, the wilderness of Maine, will love Brook Trout Forest.
Brook Trout Forest is available in Glen Blackwood’s Great Lakes Fly Fishing Company off Ten Mile Road in Rockford, Michigan.
Captain Tom Kuieck