Today, instead of fishing, I built a bookcase. I would much rather have been fishing. This is not to say I don't enjoy carpentry, because I do. It is one of my favorite creative pursuits. I've built all sorts of things for myself... including my own portable fly tying bench, but I'll tell more about that little project some other time. The bookcase has me thinking a lot about my ever growing collection of books. My personal library is probably the most outward physical representation of who I am as a naturalist and a fly fisher.
I haven't tried to count my books lately, but there's somewhere around 2,000 titles. A large portion of my books are related to herpetology... amphibians and reptiles... my first passion as a naturalist. I also have titles on general biology, zoology, evolution, ecology, birds, mammals, insects, fish, and of course fishing.
Lately, fly fishing has been one of the fastest growing areas of my library. I have recently acquired several interesting volumes including an original 1912 copy of Practical Dry Fly Fishing by Emlyn Gill. This book is one of the first (if not the first) American titles dedicated to dry fly fishing. I have a good number of other old titles, and I am always amazed at how little has truly changed in the last hundred years.
My books have been the real source of my education in fly fishing (among other things) and I would not be who I am today without them. I am grateful to all of my teachers who chose to publish their ideas in printed and bound form... Joe Brooks, Lefty Kreh, Dave Whitlock, Vincent Marinaro, Lee Wulff, Jim Quick, Gary Borger, A.J. McClane, Gary LaFontaine, and so many more. Here's just a sample of my library:
One of my most prized possessions is my copy of the L.L. Bean Fly Fishing for Bass Handbook by Dave Whitlock. It is special because I met Mr. Whitlock at a fly fishing expo and asked him to sign his book... I never expected such a beautiful and personal effort put into a book inscription. I told him that his book had taught me pretty much everything I knew about fly rodding for bass, and we discussed our shared passion.
My books... even more than my fly rods... are part of who I am.