Death, Taxes and Leaky Waders – John Gierach

I’ve seen this booked described in numerous ways - ‘best of’ and ‘treasury’ being two of the most common. I would like to had ‘Primer’ to that list as, if you’ve never read any Gierach, this is the place to start. John Geirach has few peers as an angling writer, on either side of the Atlantic, and ‘Death, Taxes and Leaky Waders’ is a series of essay’s taken from 6 of Gierach’s books. The stories span a decade of his writing from ‘Trout Bum’ in 1986 to ‘Another Lousy Day in Paradise’ in ‘96. 40 of this American writer’s finest works.

The title of John’s books tells you all you need to know about his writing style. Someone - who doesn’t take himself too seriously - who writes with a simple contentment and a deep empathy for his subject matter. Many of the stories have little to do with fishing. Angling for Gierach is as much about exploring the wilderness areas of the US which makes this sometimes as much a travel book as an angling one. The experience of being far from civilisation is a theme the writer returns to frequently.

Don’t be put off by the fact that the author is an American fly fisher. (He fishes for more than just trout anyway). What he manages to capture - time and time again is why we anglers do what we do.

Much of John’s fishing is done on the companionship of ‘AK’ as this opening paragraph from ‘Neither Snow, nor Rain, Nor Gloom of Night’ (taken from Sex, Death and Fly Fishing) illustrates…

“A.K. and I were camped on Roy Palm’s place, with the tent pitched on a flat grassy spot about half way between the house and his stretch of the Frying Pan River. Roy had recently cleaned things up, so there was a big bulldozed pile of brush and tree limbs nearby that we were raiding nightly for firewood. After the first day, Roy’s three retrievers, Tucker, Teal and Rowly, had moved in with us. They’d be waiting predictably at the tent when we got back from fishing the evening rise. We liked the dogs’ company and didn’t mind the extra warmth at night either. This was a cold camp in late October.

It wasn’t the last fishing trip of the year, but it was late enough that this was probably the last camp.. So, largely to celebrate that, one night I handed A.K. the fresh pint of Southern Comfort I had stashed in my flytying kit. Sensing the gravity of the occasion, he removed the lid, tossed it into the fire, and we settled down to get ripped.”

First published in the US in 2000 by Simon & Schuster. Published in the UK by Robinson in 2002. ISBN 1-84119-476-X Sadly now out of Print in the UK - though you should be able to get good second hand copies for under a tenner.