Book Reviews

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Ken Allen

V. Paul Reynolds

Ken AllenTracewski Gets It Right With New Fishing Book
Ken Allen

A Fisherman’s Guide to Maine by Kevin Tracewski (Countrysport Press, Camden) crossed this reviewer’s desk recently, and this where-to book impressed me greatly. Tracewski teaches biology at the University of Maine, Orono, my alma mater, and like so many authors with a science background, this man writes excellent prose with short, crisp imagery, and a smooth weaving of meticulous details into the narrative. Bernd Heinrich, Dale Rex Coman, James Trefil and Loren Eisley jump to mind as scientists who can write in a sparkling style.

Tracewski covered straight expository topics in an easily understood manner – the mark of a fine writer. Most anyone can write narrative, but straight expository passages are not always easy. Lefty Kreh’s books provide an excellent example of including expository writing that confuses readers. You know that a non-angler edited the books, and he or she just chalked up misunderstanding to not being a fisher – rather than blaming the writer for muddy prose.

A Fisherman’s Guide to Maine really does have solid where-to, and unlike most texts telling where-to-fish, Tracewski appears to have visited a majority of the places that he writes about. Either that, or he found the right people to give him the straight poop.

Accurate information is crucial in a where-to book, because the very first thing a reader does is turn to his favorite water, one which he knows intimately, and compares his notes with the author. If the book offers fluff, the serious angler sees it immediately.

Here are good examples of where-to information in A Fisherman’s Guide to Maine:

Tracewski writes about early season fishing on Jo Mary Pond and recommends using a Black-Nosed Dace or Edson Tiger bucktails. Later in the summer, he suggests Green Drake imitations to imitate the silt-burrowing Hexagenia mayfly that most Mainers call a Green Drake. On the Roach River, Tracewski suggests fishing the pool immediately below the First Roach Pond Dam, as well as the Dump and Warden’s pools. He also talks about Island Pond in the Deboullie Mountain Region and says, “…It contains a large supply of 12-inch brook trout that…smother a passing muddler minnow….” The man has been there.

Along with solid where-to fishing information is also a priceless addition of historical facts in Tracewski’s work. The man took the time to research the history of each region, and that makes his where-to book stand a step above the rest, in dealing with Maine. His where-to and historical data cover Southern Maine, Rangeley Lakes Region, Kennebec River Drainage, Moosehead Lake Region, Down East, Penobscot River Drainage, North Woods and Aroostook County.

One feature of A Fisherman’s Guide to Maine pleased this reviewer big time. Lots of people affiliated with one organization take credit for making the Shawmut stretch of the Kennebec River a stellar angling destination in the Northeast, but the beginning of this modern brown-trout fishery began with a fisheries biologist who has received little credit – Dennis McNeish of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. On page 51 is a drawing of this unheralded public servant with a blurb about his Kennebec accomplishments. Once McNeish started the fishery, he then received plenty of help from others, but he led the way and showed the possibilities.

Other people highlighted in Tracewski’s book flabbergasted this reviewer. Some of them criticize The Maine Sportsman to hell and back about our excellent where-to coverage, and then in the most hypocritical manner, they decide to contribute information to a where-to book.

Tracewski’s book belongs in anyone’s library who fishes in Maine. It costs $19.95 and includes exquisite color plates, showing fly patterns and images of typical Maine fly-fishing scenes.