What makes a good coffee table book? Is it the diversity of content? The beautiful photographs? The witty quips? To answer this question, I always defer to Kramer.
That being said, I personally am a sucker for big photographs of wildlife, musicians, or fishing. For example, I love a candid black and white of Lennon and McCartney backstage or a grazing moose in Denali.
While fishing last week with Brad, a buddy of mine from Virginia, he lazily spoke in between backcasts about a new book he got from his cousin. Not only was it a coffee table book, but it was also about fishing. He had my attention.
The book is a photo journal of sorts from two guys who spent an entire year fly fishing the coast from Maine down through the Carolinas.
Since flipping through the first few pages, I can’t get The Blitz out of my mind.
Author Pete McDonald and Photographer Tosh Brown spent a year writing, photographing, filming and fly fishing the great Atlantic migration of several saltwater species. Along their way, the met up with guides, local clubs, and fly fanatics who showed them the ins and outs of their passion for saltwater fly fishing.
The book is just over 200 pages and probably 4/5ths of that is photography. The rest is a casual narrative reflecting on the people, places, and amazing resources dispersed along the Eastern Seaboard. The discussions cover a wide range of topics including local food hot spots, difficult barriers to meaningful conservation, history, ecology, and of course, fly fishing. There are Bonito, Bluefish, False Albies, Striped Bass, Red Drum and Tuna. Additionally, in the ever expanding online community, even a newbie to the coast and saltwater fly fishing discovers that several of the key players in The Blitz are familiar.
When McDonald and Tosh make their way down to NYC and connect with the Salty Flyrodders, one of the locals they meet up with is Mister Nick Murray. Wait a minute… Mister Murray? The Man in the Striped Pajamas? Well, now the dots are connecting. Brad, the guy I was fishing with (who gave me this book), is the cousin of Nick Murray. So that’s how he got his hands on a The Blitz after it had only been in print for less than a month.
Later on, the two head to the Tidewater area of the Chesapeake and run into fly fishing guide Capt. Chris Newsome. Do you remember him? He was the guide who taught Sara and I how to make Stripers fall like Dominos.
If you have been fishing the coast for any substantial amount of time, I’m sure the names of people highlighted will be familiar to you. And that just makes this book all the more enjoyable.
As they state in the beginning, this isn’t a where-to-go, how-to-catch fishing book. In fact, this book reminded me a lot more of Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon. In that book, Heat Moon traveled the US Highway system capturing in time the small towns and interesting people he met along the way. (This was when the Interstate system was being put into place).
The Blitz captures in time the locals who live for the months when the stripers flood or the bluefish start busting the surface. I think this book will too last as a snapshot of what costal fly fishing was like in 2010 as they name drop contemporary trends and topics like “The Situation” from Jersey Shore, President Obama and family vacationing in Martha’s Vineyard and snapshots of weather maps on iPhones. These details make the book specific to the now.
For a video chronicling the trip, watch below, but rest assured, it doesn’t even come close to comparing to the awesomeness of the hardback. The book is a wonderfully put together photographic editorial that deserves to be in any saltwater (or freshwater) fly fisherman’s book case. Or, maybe more appropriately, it deserves a spot on their coffee table serving as a reminder to why we fish.