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Trout book worth reading if you want to nab a giant on a fly rod


05/26/07 By Bob Gwizdz

Timing is everything in fishing and if the same applies to writing about fishing, then Landon Mayer's new book -- "How to Catch the Biggest Trout of Your Life" -- has a leg up.

Not only did this book come out at the time of year when trout fishing is heating up, but according to the author, spring is one of the two best times (the other is fall) to achieve the tome's premise.

A full-time fishing guide from Colorado Spring, Colo., Mayer offers a systematic approach to catching giant browns and rainbows (and an occasional brookie and cutthroat, too). And though much of his angling takes place in that rarefied air of the Rocky Mountain states, Mayer interjects enough anecdotes from trips East (mostly New York, which, like Michigan, has the advantage of Great Lakes-run trout) to make a good portion of his information relevant to anglers from the Midwest.

I say a good portion -- not all -- because, frankly, he lives where there are a lot of big trout. The publicity about his book refers to his ability to regularly catch five- to 15-pound trout on the fly. And barring steelhead and lake-run browns (again, mostly spring- and fall-run fish), I'd willingly bet that the bulk of Michigan's best fly fishermen can count the number of resident five pound-plus trout they've caught on their fingers, most of them on one hand.

But the photos, I suspect, don't lie and they are absolutely eye-popping. The pictures alone are worth the price of admission. "Biggest" has that coffee-table book appeal, regardless of the text.

Most of the text is merely fair. Written in a breezy, conversational style, much of what Mayer writes is what veteran trout anglers already know -- about casting techniques, life history of trout, reading the water, etc.

But when he zooms in on the title's topic, Mayer offers a lot of insight into the specifics of chasing gigantic fish, so that most anglers can pick up some useful tips.

The most interesting chapter -- "Sighting Fish" -- reveals that Mayer sees most of his trophies before he even fishes to them, something many anglers do when the fish are on the beds (a technique Mayer eschews, by the way) but few can pull off the rest of the year.

For instance, Mayer writes, he sometimes sees just a flash of white -- the inside of a trout's mouth as it's taking a fly -- that tips him to the presence of a giant.

Similarly, his chapters on fighting and landing trophy-size trout are worthy. You don't just reel them in as you would a 12-incher.

Mayer's book is almost totally dedicated to subsurface fishing -- nymphs, egg patterns and streamers -- so those who are dedicated to fishing dry for giants (say, during the Hex hatch or at night with mice) won't get a lot out of this book. But for those who have spent an angling career and have yet to bring an exceptional trout to hand, Mayer will definitely give you some ideas on your approach.

"Biggest," which is part of the Masters on the Fly series published by Wild River Press, retails for $29.95. If you dream of besting five-pound trout on a fly rod, "Biggest" is definitely worth checking out.
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