by Bob Petti
A book whose
beauty is only exceeded
by the majesty of the subject.
photographs by Enrico Ferorelli
Land of Little Rivers
Press, New York, 1999
Hardcover - 279 pages
Cover Price: US$60.00
Available directly from the publisher or from your favorite
Having spent the last ten years of my life living within day
trip range of the Catskill mountains, I was most excited at the
opportunity to review a book documenting this famed region. Having
felt the magic of the Beaverkill firsthand, I knew it would be
a tough assignment for any book to capture its essence. How excited
I was when I encountered this passage by the author in the introduction:
the Lenni Lenape tribe of the Algonquians, Manitou inhabited
the Onti Ora, the Mountains of the Sky, here in the Catskills.
Manitou is a supernatural power that permeates the world, possessed
in varying degrees by both spiritual and human beings. I know
this is a bit strong for many of us, but it was out there for
them and it is still out there.
believe it is this power - call it passion, dedication, committment,
vision, love, or what you will - that has inspired the myriad
fly fishers who in small ways and large have created, fought
for, and extended a great sporting tradition in a hallowed land,
and I respect the honor of presenting them, their feats, and
their little rivers in these pages"
has walked along the shores of these rivers and not been touched
by those spirits hasn't been paying attention. I knew from the
introduction that this was going to be a special book, that the
book was written by a man who can articulate the feelings of many,
who is not just voicing the thoughts of others but offering us
a personal view of the Land of Little Rivers through his own eyes
and heart. Fantastic.
I was not
disappointed. In fact, I was surprised in many instances. The
first suprise was the opening chapter, which documented the origin
and development of the Catskill Fly Fishing Center. What might
seem otherwise out of place, the pictures and short narrative
about the purpose and vision for the CFFC&M was perfectly
appropriate and I applaud the author for taking the time and space
to pay homage to a collective labor of love of so many.
To say the
book is beautiful is a disservice. The photographs of Enrico Ferorelli
span the pages and leap out at the reader, grabbing your attention.
His work is augmented by the photographs of many others as well
as classic works of art. When I first opened it, the brightness
and quality of the photographs reminded me of the books by Paul
Schmookler and Ingrid Sils whose books have set a very high standard.
Land of Little
Rivers is separated into three parts, Rivers, Tackle, and Heritage.
The discussion of the many rivers of the region is obvious given
the title of the book, but other chapters were quite a pleasant
surprise. For instance, there is an entire chapter devoted to
the wonderful flies that have come out of the region. There are
also chapters devoted to rods and reels, Theodore Gordon, the
development of the Catskill hatchery system, the private angling
clubs that the region is so known for, including The Woman Flyfisher
Club, and others. Mr. Francis managed to cover a broad spectrum
of topics with ease.
devoted to the major rivers are preceded by beautiful artistic
maps done by the author which show not only the river in question,
its tributaries and major pools, but also some of the surrounding
points of historic interest. The maps are also available separately
from the book as frameable pieces of art. Accompanying the photos
of the rivers, both current and historic, is a running history
of angling along these rivers starting as far back as recorded
history will allow. To read about access to the upper Beaverkill
in the mid 1800's is to appreciate how easy we have it today,
but it also evokes a bit of envy at the secluded and untamed wilderness
that this region once was.
The old cliche
says a picture is worth a thousand words, so let me conclude with
some of the beautiful pictures contained within the covers of
this handsome work. I'm confident that you, too, will recognize
the impact that the Catskill rivers have had over these two men.