Stu Farnham

January 20th, 2003

A Fly Fisher's Library
By Stu Farnham

The Internet is a powerful resource. It provides us instant access to information, and brings us together via email, bulletin boards, chat rooms, and instant messaging. FAOL is a wonderful example of the Internet at its best. The Internet, however, will never replace the printed page.

I've loved books and fishing since my youngest years, although I did not start fly fishing until 1993. This column will give me an opportunity to share reviews of some of my favorite fly fishing and tying books (and some that are not such favorites) with my friends here at FAOL. My library reflects my tastes and interests, and so will this column. It will be heavily slanted towards cold water fishing and tying for trout and steelhead, and won't touch much on areas of which I know little, such as warm or salt water fishing.

I hope that these reviews will motivate some of you to pick up a good book, on this or any subject, and read. ~ Stu Farnham

Fly Fishing the Mountain Lakes

Fly Fishing the Mountain Lakes
By Gary LaFontaine
Paperback: 186 pages
Publisher: Greycliff Pub Co;(December 1, 1998)
ASIN: 0962666378

Fly Fishing the Mountain Lakes was Gary LaFontaine's last book published before his death from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (aka ALS, or, in the US, Lou Gehrig's disease) in January 2002. Two books have been published posthumously as of this writing: Fly Fishing the Madison, co-authored with Craig Matthews, and Fly Fishing the Henry's Fork, co-authored with Mike Lawson.

Gary is best remembered for his encyclopedic work on Trichoptera, Caddisflies, and for his innovative fly patterns. His work was insightful and backed by exhaustive research and experience. He was also known for his offbeat sense of humor, familiar to many of us through his quarterly fly-fishing catalog The Book Mailer.

I should note that I'm not much of a lake fisherman. I don't feel I understand lake fishing for trout. I'm aptivated by running water and, with so many options for fishing rivers and streams here in the Pacific Northwest, have not had the motivation to learn. I think it speaks well of this book that, despite no real interest in its subject, I read it in an evening, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Probably the biggest revelation to me was the importance of anabatic winds - the upslope winds generated by thermal effects in the mountains in summer - in delivering large numbers of terrestrial insects to relatively infertile high lakes and their eager wild trout.

In many ways Fly Fishing the Mountain Lakes is Gary's most approachable book. It mixes detailed information on strategies, techniques, and equipment with anecdotes from Gary's life. Some of the anecdotes are instructive, but many stand on their own as good stories. LaFontaine's sense of humor is evident throughout. His companions through the book include Chester the world's smartest fishing dog and three pack goats all named Rufus.

Many of the mountain lakes in LaFontaine's adopted home state of Montana are in remote, high altitude locations. As a result, Gary spends time on the issues of conditioning for the hikes in. There's also a chapter debating the virtues of various pack animals. People get hurt around horses; llamas spit; mules are stubborn and nasty; alpacas are expensive. Hence Gary's affection for the pack goat.

As one would expect, the book also contains a number of fly patterns. Most are LaFontaine's own patterns, and most are not new to this book, having appeared in Caddisflies or Gary's other books such as The Dry Fly New Angles and Trout Flies: Proven Patterns.

Reading Fly Fishing the Mountain Lakes is an enjoyable, informative way to spend a few winter hours. ~ Stu Farnham

Publishers Note: You can read an excerpt from this book here:

About Stu

Stu tying Stu Farnham is a New Englander by birth, who was transplanted to and put down roots in Oregon in the early 1990s, now residing in the Seattle area. A software engineering manager by vocation, he can be found in his spare time chasing trout and steelhead in the rivers of the Pacific Northwest, chasing his four Gordon Setters (who in turn are chasing chukar), tying flies, reading, or working on his website. Colleen, his long suffering wife of 28 years, is a professionally trained personal chef.

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