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Today, we're taking a look back on Wayne Curtis' Fishing the High Country in light of the author's recent receiving of the New Brunswick Lieutenant-Governor's Award for Literary Arts.
New Brunswick's Miramichi River is one of the most entrancing salmon rivers in the world. In Fishing the High Country, Curtis has created what can only be described as a river masterpiece, a lyrical record of time and place, of those who are drawn to its side and those who cast their lines into its waters.
If you have no idea where the fish lies are on a given stretch of water, you have to fish it all, inch by inch. Because sometimes a fish will lie in two feet of water, especially if it is bog-stained or teak-coloured. Start with a short case, just the leader. Measure your casts, each one a fraction longer than the last, and move your feet gradually downstream. It's like mowing with a hand scythe in that each swathe must reach a fraction further, cover new ground, new water. This is time-consuming but effective. You still have to present your fly with the proper swing and speed, and this also becomes guesswork if you haven't read the water. Still, there are people who just love to cast a fly line, fish or no fish: reading the water is less important to them."
Drawing on his experience of life along the river — as a boy, as a young man, and as a river guide among guides, Wayne Curtis crafts the compelling memoir of this place, a high country where he spins his tales, casts his flies, and fishes the river and woods for his stories. The Miramichi vibrates in Curtis's bones. His cast of characters are earthy, whimsical, and wise. His eye for the telling detail and his rooted understanding of lives lived humbly will captivate readers with its near mystical blend of the mysteries of fly fishing and the affections of the heart.