A Fly Fishing Guide to Rocky Mountain National Park
In the interests of full disclosure, let me state up front that the author of "A Fly Fishing Guide to Rocky Mountain National Park", Steve Schweitzer, is a partner/co-founder of this web site as well as a friend of mine. Neither of those facts influenced my review.
I've known Steve a long time now, from way back when he was S2 on FF@ and had his own Midwest fly fishing web site. It became clear to me pretty quickly that Steve is the kind of guy who, when he sets out to do something, "good enough" is never good enough. He wants it to be the best - whether it is a fly submitted to a friendly swap, a spreadsheet to store leader formulas, or a home built rod for a friend. He puts his best foot forward or he doesn't participate. It is no surprise, then, that "A Fly Fishing Guide to Rocky Mountain National Park" is one of the very best guide books I have ever seen.
A guide book should be the kind of book that is dog-eared and spends most of its life bouncing around the seats and floors of your car. I have a Delorme map of New York that has been in my car for nearly two decades and it shows - the cover is in three pieces and there are printed notes and maps falling out all over. It is in my car because it is useful and I'm usually driving somewhere when I need it. A guide book should be the same. It is certainly not the kind of book that should get a plastic cover and placed gently on the shelves of your fly tying room next to your favorite John Gierach books. It should have turned down page corners, scribbled notes in the margins, scraps of paper stuffed here and there, coffee and mud stains, and a generally weather beaten appearance.
Books get that way when the serve a purpose - when they are useful and not just pretty. Steve's book is useful. If I lived in the RMNP, his guide book would be well on its way to looking like my Delorme atlas. There are maps galore. There are detailed descriptions of fishing resources. There is advice on access points, tackle, flies and hatches, tactics, weather, seasonal changes, fish species, simply everything you think you need to know to plan a trip into the mountains - and many many things you didn't even consider. I read through the book and found myself chuckling - typical Steve - absolutely nothing left behind. Heck - there are even topographic maps that show the elevation changes on some of the trails needed to reach the lakes and streams so people can determine before it's too late whether they are physically up to the challenge of reaching a particular body of water.
And he STILL managed to make it pretty. Those who know Steve wonder if his passion is fishing, or if fishing is just an excuse to travel to pretty places with a camera. His guide book is chock full of beautiful full color photographs - of fish, of rivers and lakes, and of breathtaking landscapes. Dammit, Steve!
He published the freaking thing himself!
It took me a couple times looking through the book before I noticed a small detail. He published the freaking thing himself! Pixachome Publishing - that's Steve! No wonder it doesn't look the same as all those other guide books. It's a one-of-a-kind! That just fried my circuits. When the first page states "photography, illustrations, and text by the author", he forgot to mention book layout and design. Typical Steve. When other publishing houses aren't good enough, he does it himself. And he does it better. Geez.
It's clearly a global class book. The best fishing guide book I've seen. Not even close.