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Views and opinions: Fish tales are mainly what this biography has to offer
 

Born to Fish: How an Obsessed Angler Became the World’s Greatest Striped Bass Fisherman by Tim Gallagher & Greg Myerson

c.2018, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

$26/Higher in Canada

205 pages

It was not your typical romance. She fell for the first line you fed her and she played hard-to-get, but she was a beauty and she was worth every ounce of effort.

A catch like her doesn’t come along every day, and in the new book Born to Fish by Tim Gallagher & Greg Myerson, you had her for sure – hook, line and sinker.

By the time he was 2 years old, Greg Myerson was already fascinated by fishing. As the story goes, he was caught more than once with his toy rod and reel, trying to make a catch in the drainage ditch in front of his parents’ Connecticut home.

Not long after that, though he was barely old enough for school, Myerson understood his soul needed the outdoors to thrive and he spent hours alone, exploring the woods just beyond his back yard.

He was never good with a classroom, but he got by; the best thing he gained from school were friends who taught him better ways to hunt and fish, and they showed Myerson the fine art of trapping.

At age 8, he was already determined to have a skiff of his own so he could fish for striped bass in the ocean near his home; trapping muskrats and selling pelts would get him to that goal within two years.

His parents were wise to what he was doing by then but, despite their wishes and that of the Coast Guard, 10-year-old Myerson began taking his new boat asea into dangerous parts of the water. His fascination with fishing had become a full-blown obsession that only grew.

The summer after his first year at college, the obsession finally paid off when Myerson, who’d been ruminating on an idea, had a breakthrough that led to the catching of a record-smashing fish of epic size. And that fish led to a fisherman’s change of heart.

First, this: Born to Fish can be a struggle to read. To start, there seems to be a lot of repetition. That may be because, unlike most other biographies that offer a little more surrounding backstory, this book is almost completely about co-author Greg Myerson.

You’ll read about his life in fishing, but also about a lot of fights and disregard for rules and laws, and that gets pretty stale. We’re also offered tales of elementary-school children alone on boats, and with guns.

And yet, there’s the fishing.

Co-author Tim Gallagher tells heart-pounding stories of landing the biggest of the big ones, tales that will thrill even the most neophyte of fishermen. Those parts of this book are like sitting around in the bait shop, ears open to tales of lures, equipment, boats and motors and long battles with water monsters.

In the end, what you want from a book will determine how much you’ll like this one: if you come for the sport, then Born to Fish will hook you easy enough. If you’re looking for biography, though, let this book be the One That Got Away.

 

Terri Schlichenmeyer has been reading since she was three years old and never goes anywhere without a book. She lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 14,000 books.

6/21/2018