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Fishing Limestone Streams
Charles Meck is no stranger to fly fisherman, at least those in the mid-Atlantic states, as he's been writing books and articles about fly fishing since the 1960's. His latest book, "Fishing Limestone Streams", tackles those most special of trout waters where hatches can be intense, the fish can be grow large, and the catching can be difficult.
The book opens with a chapter defining limestone creeks - what they are, what makes them different from other creeks, and why trout (and thus anglers) find them so appealing. The chief advantage of limestone creeks is that they typically originate as springs with underground sources, which both regulates the temperature of the water throughout the year as well as the flow rate, leading to much better living conditions for all plants and critters that call limestone creeks home.
Meck then goes on to list some of the better known limestone creeks in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia. While he does not include maps of the locations himself, he does give good cross-references to those large "Delorme" atlases for each state. The problem here, of course, is that he assumes the reader has one of these maps. I think it would have been a good practice for him to also include town names, so the reader can locate some of these streams on a normal road map. I also wish he had listed the sections of these chapters in the table of contents, so I could easily flip to "Southeast Pennsylvania" for example. As it is now, if I want to find streams in a certain region of the state, I have to flip pages looking for the appropriate heading. I know - it's a small nit - but aren't table of contents all about helping people find what they want in the book?
The rest of the book deals all the "how-to's" associated with limestone creeks. While trout are trout no matter what water they are found in, every situation has its own set of tactics that will help an angler increase their chances of hooking fish. If you've ever read Meck's writing in the past, you know that he's a hatch guy, so he spends quite a bit of time describing the hatches and the flies associated with those hatches. The lure of limestone creeks is the year-round insect activity and the willingness of trout to rise to meet the hatches (which absolutely does not imply their willingness to rise to your hair and fur offerings).
"Fishing Limestone Streams" is not one of this high gloss full color books that are as much eye candy as they are information sources. The photographs within the book are all black-and-white, and the recipes for the flies are all classics. You have to wonder how many of Meck's books and magazine articles include a recipe for his famous "Patriot" dry fly. The book has an old feel to it, but then again - these limestone streams are old themselves and you simply cannot argue with time tested patterns and techniques used to catch their trout. Meck has been catching trout from these waters before some of us were born, so we should not dismiss his ideas simply because they've been written about before.
While I'm sure plenty of the material inside the book has been published before, I have the feeling this was one of those efforts to consolidate all of Meck's writing about limestone streams of the mid-Atlantic states under one cover. If that was the goal - then I say mission accomplished. For those of us who live outside the area covered in the book, this will be a valuable reference if we get the urge to go exploring.