Outdoors

Cartoonist's angling book sets the hook

Unlike every other fly fishing book known to humanity, Jack Ohman's "Angler Management" contains no deep thoughts, no searing epiphanies, very little in the way of transformative midlife-crisis observations.

That's what makes it such a refreshing, enjoyable read.

You don't have to be a fly fisher to enjoy the book, but it helps.

If you've never donned waders and stood for hours casting into babbling brooks, you might not appreciate the nuance in the, say, fluorocarbon leader humor.

But you'll still catch the broad barbs and get the levels of obsession that Ohman, whose day job is being the editorial cartoonist at The Oregonian in Portland, both mocks and celebrates.

On the hardiness of fly fishers: "In fly fishing, we don't stop fishing until the water ceases molecular motion, the fly bouncing off the ice, helpless, useless, hoping the trout had a part-time job as a U.S. Coast Guard cutter."

On figuring out the mind of a trout: "Deception of an animal that has no more brain power than a bowl of lime Jell-O is seeming child's play, and yet trout always have the upper hand. We devote hours and days and weeks and years to what? Getting a reaction from a barely evolved insect-eating machine."

On the futility of trying to construct your own fishing gear: "I would rather try prostate surgery on myself than try to build a rod again."

Nice image.

Actually, the book is filled with images: Ohman's drawings, which will be easily recognizable to those who see his syndicated cartoons gracing editorial pages.

What you won't get out of the book is a how-to manual. About as close as Ohman gets is this explanation of casting: "Casting requires some weird sort of ability to feel exactly when the line is ready to go, and you could explain it to someone 78 billion times and they still couldn't do it."

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