400 pages, 64 b/w illustrations
"Many of us probably would be better fishermen if we did not spend so much time watching and waiting for the world to become perfect."
– Norman Maclean
Though Maclean writes of an age-old focus of all anglers – the day's catch – he may as well be speaking to another, deeper accomplishment of the best fishermen and fisherwomen: the preservation of natural resources.
Backcasts celebrates this centuries-old confluence of fly fishing and conservation. However religious, however patiently spiritual the tying and casting of the fly may be, no angler wishes to wade into rivers of industrial runoff or cast into waters devoid of fish or full of invasive species like the Asian carp. So it comes as no surprise that those who fish have long played an active, foundational role in the preservation, management, and restoration of the world's coldwater fisheries. With sections covering the history of fly fishing; the sport's global evolution, from the rivers of South Africa to Japan; the journeys of both native and nonnative trout; and the work of conservation organizations such as the Federation of Fly Fishers and Trout Unlimited, Backcasts casts wide.
Highlighting the historical significance of outdoor recreation and sports to conservation in a collection important for fly anglers and scholars of fisheries ecology, conservation history, and environmental ethics, Backcasts explores both the problems anglers and their organizations face and how they might serve as models of conservation – in the individual trout streams, watersheds, and landscapes through which these waters flow.
"How we experience nature shapes how we value nature. Backcasts argues that the values held by fly fishers have evolved from utilitarian self-interest toward biocentric, ecosystem-based conservation, with today's guiding principles including stream management based on sound science, not political pressure, an emphasis on wild trout, even if they may not be native, and a commitment to protect and restore coldwater habitats. Bringing together a disparate literature from history, philosophy, religion, gender studies, and ecology to focus on the past, present, and future role of fly fishers in coldwater conservation, Backcasts will appeal to scholars and practitioners in all of these disciplines, as well as to coldwater fisheries specialists, conservation biologists, policy specialists, and trout and salmon enthusiasts. This volume, because of the depth and breadth of its research, will have a very long shelf life."
– Donald J. Orth, Thomas H. Jones Professor, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
"Backcasts offers essays and original research on the subject of fly fishing and its role in conservation from an American and global perspective, which is usually lacking in such works, as well as articles detailing contributions of Native Americans and women. Both the fly fishing community as a whole, especially conservationist organizations, and students in fisheries biology will find value in the essays that deal with the historical background to fishing and conservation and those that deal with contemporary problems, with a special emphasis on the impact of invasive species. Backcasts flows. It will be a fine contribution to scholarship. The editors and authors should be proud of their hard work."
– Todd E. A. Larson, Xavier University
Foreword: Looking Downstream from A River
Jen Corrinne Brown
Introduction. A Historical View: Wading through the History of Angling’s Evolving Ethics
Part One: Historical Perspectives
1 Trout and Fly, Work and Play, in Medieval Europe
Richard C. Hoffmann
2 Piscatorial Protestants: Nineteenth-Century Angling and the New Christian Wilderness Ethic
3 The Fly Fishing Engineer: George T. Dunbar, Jr., and the Conservation Ethic in Antebellum America
Part Two: Geographies of Sport and Concern
4. Protecting a Northwest Icon: Fly Anglers and Their Efforts to Save Wild Steelhead
5 Conserving Ecology, Tradition, and History: Fly Fishing and Conservation in the Pocono and Catskill Mountains
6 From Serpents to Fly Fishers: Changing Attitudes in Blackfeet Country toward Fish and Fishing
7 Thymallus tricolor: The Michigan Grayling
Part Three: Native Trout and Globalization
8 “For Every Tail Taken, We Shall Put Ten Back”: Fly Fishing and Salmonid Conservation in Finland
9 Trout in South Africa: History, Economic Value, Environmental Impacts, and Management
10 Holy Trout: New Zealand and South Africa
11 A History of Angling, Fisheries Management, and Conservation in Japan
Part Four: Ethics and Practices of Conservation
12 For the Health of Water, Fish, and People: Women, Angling, and Conservation
Gretel Van Wieren
13 Crying in the Wilderness: Roderick Haig-Brown, Conservation, and Environmental Justice
14 The Origin, Decline, and Resurgence of Conservation as a Guiding Principle in the Federation of Fly Fishers
15 It Takes a River: Trout Unlimited and Coldwater Conservation
Conclusion. What the Future Holds: Conservation Challenges and the Future of Fly Fishing
Jack Williams and Austin Williams
Chris Wood, CEO, Trout Unlimited
Appendix. Research Resources: A List of Libraries, Museums, and Collections Covering Sporting History, Especially Fly Fishing
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Samuel Snyderis the Alaska Engagement Director of Trout Unlimited s Alaska Program.Bryon Borgeltis principal of Saint Rose School in Perrysburg, Ohio.Elizabeth Tobeyis an art historian and independent scholar affiliated with the Department of Art History and Archaeology at the University of Maryland. She lives in Greenbelt, MD. All three are avid anglers."