Thursday, June 4, 2009


by: L.A. Van Veghel
Books have always been a part of my life. While I don’t recall much of my youth, because I’m a live for the moment type person, I do know I always had books around me. Even during high school when books were assigned for book reports and I didn’t read them, I still read books. I just read different books. In college, I made an attempt to read an assigned book. It was “Up the Down Staircase,” and it was definitely not one of my favorites. It was such an unmemorable book that today, all I can remember was that the paperback had a yellow cover. I preferred Tolkien, Heinlein, Asimov, MacLean, and even “The History of Medicine.” I read about interurbans, the North Shore, the building of America via railroads, and I read about tropical fish.

Now, I’m not getting out and fishing as much as I’d like. I’m still reading a lot, but I’d like to read more. I get tired now. I have cancer, and I’m getting chemo treatments every two weeks. My finger tips get needles and pins in them when wet or cold. It’s impossible to feel a walleye or a crappie bite when my fingertips are going crazy.

So I read and gather information for a future outing I hope to have. To me, giving up is for losers. Let’s see what’s happening in the fishing book world.

THE ORVIS GUIDE TO PROSPECTING FOR TROUT; How to Catch Fish When There’s No Hatch to Match by Tom Rosenbauer. The Lyons Press, $22.95 & 208 pages. This is a great book for anglers who like to walk in water. Fishing pools, looking for riffles, how to fish with just the right speed and depth through turbulence, finding oxygenated water, and fishing with strike indicators are just a few of the topics in this 8-1/2” x 11” softcover book. The photos show anglers plying their knowledge and techniques. Nighttime fly fishing is also covered, and the author said that night-feeding German brown trout like the big and bushy, palmer-hackled wet flies. Fly tossers who use artificial ants might like the Chernobyl Ant. It’s quite large. I’d like to try an Elk Hair Caddis. Rosenbauer says it imitates moths, caddisflies, small stoneflies, small grasshoppers, and it floats well. This means you can either use this fly in a loud manner or quietly. When the hoppers are jumping into the water, you can make more noise. Trout are less skittish.

FISHING ALABAMA: An Angler’s Guide to 50 of the State’s Prime Fishing Spots by Ed Mashburn. Globe Pequot Press, $16.95 & 200 pages. Even though I might never fish these waters, I can pick up techniques and other knowledge that can improve my Wisconsin fishing skills and results. Lots of the bass fishing techniques we use have come from B.A.S.S. tournament coverage on TV, plus the shows of many present and past bass pro anglers of various circuits. Most of these shows originate from the Bass Belt, which happens to be the same as the Bible Belt, for some reason.

You can easily tell the author is from Alabama, or a neighboring state. “Bream” is used in place of “sunfish” or “bluegill.” The true bream, Abramis brama, is a freshwater, thin-bodied yellowish fish, and it is not related to the sunfish family. It’s not even similarly shaped. There’s also a “sea bream,” and this is really an Atlantic porgy, Archosargus rhomboidalis.

Alabama offers both fresh and saltwater angling. Mashburn does a fine job of covering the region and its fish, no matter what we call them. We have a common angling bond transversing all colloquial barriers. This book provides plenty of black-and-white photos and some maps. Saltwater species and their hotspots are in the middle portion of the book while the freshwater fish reside in the last section of the book. Mashburn begins his fine book by introducing us to the species he covers, plus adding various techniques and baits to use. A listing of state record fish is a nice addition.

FISHING THE TEXAS GULF COAST: An Angler’s Guide to More than 100 Great Places to Fish by Mike Holmes. Globe Pequot Press, $16.95 & 144 pages. Holmes is no newbie to these waters. He’s fished them since the mid-1970’s, including as a licensed boat captain since 1982. He’s widely published regarding this area and the species living here.

Local saltwater anglers have their versions of Wisconsin’s freshwater panfish. Instead of bluegills, perch and crappies, Texas Gulf Coast bait tossers bring in croakers, sand trout, whiting, pompano, sheepshead, “smaller versions of black drum,” plus the gaftop catfish. The author warns the reader not to confuse this catfish with the similar looking buy not edible common hardhead catfish.

Larger fish include the bigger black drum, which Holmes says is “the redfish’s ugly cousin,” alligator gar, tarpon, striped bass, blue catfish, tripletail and the ever popular snook.

The book goes into areas to fish and numerous maps are provided. As in the previous book, both make me want to fish these waters.

CLIMBER’S GUIDE TO DEVIL’S LAKE, 3rd edition, by Sven Olof Swartling and Peter Mayer. University of Wisconsin Press, $19.95 & 424 pages. How would you like to climb Poison Ivy Wall or Rainy Wednesday Tower on a Tuesday?” Well you can in Wisconsin’s Devil’s Lake State Park. The rock here is Precambrian. That means it is about 1.5 billion years old, and the rock was the bottom content of a large sea. This rock is mostly compressed pure quartz sand that we better known as sandstone. Unlike other sandstone, studying this material under a microscope shows that this quartz was compressed over a long period of time, so that wear from water shows as ripples. This makes the Devil’s Lake sandstone sedentary instead of the faster forming metamorphic quartzite.

Reading through the beginning of this excellent book provides a treasure trove of information regarding the Cambrian Sea and its tropical islands, rivers that are only visible as remnants, the Pleistocene Glaciers, plants and animals, and the effects humans had on the region.

Numerous maps, drawings and photos put the reader right at the locations for climbing. Those aren’t white garden hoses hanging from the precipices. Those are climbing routes. The labor of love for the sport still shows in the 3rd edition. I’ve climbed the quarry rocks, but not the steep precipices. This is a great part of Wisconsin, and Swartling and Mayer show you why.

SWEET AND SOUR PIE: A Wisconsin Boyhood by Dave Crehore. University of Wisconsin Press, $19.95 & 176 pages. Every man that grew up in Wisconsin had “A Wisconsin Boyhood,” so why is Crehore’s youth worth writing about, let along read?

The cover hooked me. It shows the author in his red cowboy hat as the young boy fished from a boat while enjoying the company of his mom, -- and her upside down reel – and presumably his dad who took the picture. I thought, “What a wonderful, warm and happy life experience.” This is a time that is even more fun when looking back. Crehore does that in “Sweet and Sour Pie,” and I’m glad he did.

Yep, there’s hunting and fishing in this book. We even find out that Crehore’s dad might’ve gotten the first Rapala lures in the United States. They tried the baits on Hartlaub Lake, and they worked. Both father and son caught bass on their first casts. These fish had never seen balsa baits, unlike today’s bass that learn a lot in their schools.

David Crehore is a past public information officer for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Besides having stories in Wisconsin Natural Resources, his material often appeared in Shooting Sportsman. In his book, he invites you to visit him as a youth in Manitowoc County. Get a copy and you’ll see that time travel is possible.

ALAN KULWICKI NASCAR CHAMPION: Against All odds by Fr. Dale Grubba. Badger Books LLC, $23.95 & 520 pages. You never know what you’ll learn from a book, and I like trivia. I now know that Milwaukee’s famed WKLH DJ Marilynn Mee was Miss Springer Speedway in 1977, but that’s not the purpose of this book.

Alan Kulwicki is Wisconsin’s #1favorite when it comes to racing. Grubba follows the racer’s life from go cart track record setting runs through the small tracks and on through new model stock and Indie cars. Kulwicki still races the small tracks, but he’s also excellent on the big name tracks. Time goes fast, and I’m betting he doesn’t feel like as much time has passed since he set the Junior Reed Class track record at Wisconsin Badger Raceway in 1970. His dad had gotten him his first cart in 1969. Alan set the senior record in 1972.

Fr. Grubba keeps the story racing forward. Plenty of dialogue makes this book read like the finest fiction. The author also took a majority of the photos.

Badger Books LLC prints interesting books on Wisconsin, and this is a wonderful addition to their published works.

THE BOOMER’S GUIDE TO LIGHTWEIGHT BACKPACKING: New Gear for Old People by Carol Corbridge with artwork by Jayna Harrison. Frank Amato Publications, Inc. $18.95 & 102 pages. If backpacking keeps a boomer like me as young as some of the people in the full color photos in this book, I’m going backpacking immediately. With that minor negative comment out-of-the way, I can say I enjoyed this book. As a dog owner, dog step-father, dog head of the herd, or whatever my dog thinks of me – and I hope it’s nice -- , I liked seeing the backpackers taking along their dogs. Going on vacations is often difficult, more expensive and harder to accomplish when people take on the added responsibility of pet ownership. Should we board the animal, or will Auntie Gracie be suckered into another dog sitting job?

If you want to buy a book that is every bit as efficient as you should be when backpacking as a boomer, this is the book for you. Clothing, bathroom items, food container, including the Platypus 1.8 Hoser, camera, fishing equipment, water, food, such as instant oatmeal with raisons, jerky and coffee, especially on those cold mornings, cooking utensils, foul weather gear, light tents, first aid materials, dog food, sunglasses, and all kinds of other things must be backpack tote-able without making your treks into pure, unpleasant drudgery. Corbridge has several tables that make selections easy. She often carries just 30 pounds with her on weeklong jaunts.

To paraphrase Yogi Berra, “Life’s not over until it’s over.” Cancer or not, I’m going fishing this Thursday.

“Fish on!!!”

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