This is something else.
For those who have had the pleasure of
fishing wonderful silvery fish in the Bahamas, this one will transport
you to total immersion. The great escape! For just the price of the
book, no travel agents or airline to contend with, just pure pleasure.
If you have thought of going, Shadows on the Flats will
give you the final reason.
Chet Reneson is probably the best known of
fishing artists, and his images are more than accurate. It's the feel
for the region and it's people. You maybe can't feel the screaming
reel in his watercolors, but if I listened hard I could sure hear it! I
wish I could say I have a favorite of the paintings in this book, but
they are so good it's impossible.
There is a brilliance and intensity of light in the Bahamas, made
more visible with the lack of city pollution. The whites are whiter, the
blues bluer, and the shadows - ah, the shadows are deeper and
even more mysterious. I suspect that is where the book title originated.
I'm not ever in favor of destroying fine books, but I can picture a den
wall covered with Chet's beautiful and yet very physical watercolors
from this book - taking me back to Andros Island. Perhaps the
publisher might consider packaging them as an adjunct to the book. I'll
bet I can find a place for them!
The text is an unusual approach. The author,
Ed Gray is dropped off in a wadable bay, while he sends his wife
off with the guide to fish elsewhere. He wants to have a day alone
on the flats. Alone to read the water, find and stalk the fish, and
find the "stillness" inside his head.
Author Gray's words here: "More than
for any other reason, I go to wild places to find silences, the kind that
you find only there and that you cannot find even in those places unless
you have been away from them. For no natural place is ever actually
silent; it's the quiet in your own head that you seek, and it takes some
time before you begin to hear it. First you have to let the cacophony that
you have brought with you drain away, clattering off sporadically toward
the horizon. And the farther the horizon, the quieter, finally, it can get."
" . . .For I have come to love not just the fish and the
fishing, the the island themselves. As tangible places and private
metaphors, these sun-washed limestone-and-coral archipelagoes rising
thin, white and green from the indigo depths and ultramarine distances
of the Atlantic Ocean have captured a part of me that wants always to
be anchored to them, both physically and spiritually. I want to walk on
them, even when I'm beyond their shores, so I get out of the boat
whenever it's possible. No island ceases at the water's edge when you
walk on your own two feet, hunting in its shallows, no ocean calls you
alien . . ."
I've read many books on fishing the Bahamas, the
flies, the fish, the how, the where - but nothing captures the sense and
feel of being there like Shadows on the Flats.
Oh, and yes he does stalk and find (and catch) bonefish and permit!
But it almost doesn't matter. ~ DLB
Shadows on the Flats
is hardbound, 128, coffee-table size. The price is $35.00 (U.S.), ISBN: 157223127- 0.