The Trout Diaries
Derek Grzelewski's book The Trout Diaries takes the reader on a relaxed, yet exciting trip through the seasons of a year in a fly-fisherman's life. It's not one particular year it seems, but more like a series of representative periods in a row of years.
The seasons are upside down compared to mine - literally. Spring is in October and autumn is in March and April, summer is winter... at least in this book. This is of course dictated by the fact that we're in the southern hemisphere and on the other side of the globe compared to where I am right now.
The name New Zealand has a magical sound to most trout anglers, and Grzelewski confirms that NZ is worth visiting for the many reasons that we have come to appreciate from other books, magazines, videos and friends who have been there: nice people, fantastic fishing and not least a countryside, which can take the breath away from anybody.
Of course it's not easy to convey the breathtaking landscapes in a text book, but the sense of nice people and great fishing oozes from every chapter of this book.
The author very fittingly calls himself and his friends trout bohemians, and through a long row of fishing trips to all sorts of destinations in New Zealand, they live up to this title by living and breathing fishing, all very nicely penned down by Grzelewski.
The book is an easy and entertaining read, at times funny, but also serious, educating and even touching, not least when Grzelewski tells about returning home to an empty house after his wife has left him.
It's not a where-to or a how-to book, even though you can pick up a tip or two underway. It first and foremost brilliantly conveys the sense of fishing in New Zealand with its many opportunities and its potentially overwhelming experiences as well as its difficulties. The book has its quiet moments as well as its successful joyrides.
I like the fact that there are pictures in this book. Text books on fishing often lacks photos or other illustrations, but in my opinion photos, paintings, drawings or even small doodles or vignettes can lift a book from good to sublime. This might not be sublime, but the pictures of the landscapes, the author and his trusty companion, the Airdale terrier Mops, really lifts it and makes it a better reading experience for me at least. And it doesn't hurt that Grzelewski is an excellent photographer with professional assignments for NZ and Australian Geographic, GEO, Reader's Digest and the Smithsonian under the belt. On top of the photos, the book features some excellent drawn vignettes of most of the flies mentioned - also a fine way of accenting a good text.
This all comes together in a fine and really recommendable book, which can service as a great fireplace read for those of us with no immediate plans for going to New Zealand and a fine apetizer for those lucky ones with NZ on the chart, wanting to pick up a tip or two and get a taste of the ambiance and the action.