Middle River Dispatches is a gumbo of posts about fly-fishing, conservation, politics and days afield.

The Confluence

The Confluence Book Cover

When my friend Bill Conway asked me to read and review a book he had coauthored along with our mutual friend Norm Richter and six other Dartmouth friends, David A. Van Wie, L. Philip Odence, Robert Chamberlin, Edwin Baldrige III, David Klinges I honored and delighted. They have collaborated to bring forth The Confluence, “A collection of essays, art and tall tales about fly-fishing and friendship in the Dartmouth College Grant.”

I can’t say enough good about the thoroughly entertaining collections of stories that make up The Confluence. Suffice it to say this is so much more than a collection of fishing stories. It is a revealing look at friends fishing that span nearly a quarter century. It even has a chapter on tenkara much to my delight.

Each chapter has its own unique point of view and gives the reader a charming glimpse of times afield thoroughly enjoyed. I’ll let you discover the gems and jewels contained in its pages and not spoil the fun. But it delivers something for the novice, the adventurous and the accomplished angler alike.

If you know in your soul that fishing with friends is one of the great joys of fishing and that the experience is enhanced by wild places, then don’t miss the chance to add this book to your library.

The Confluence is scheduled to be released May 3, 2016.

You can keep up with news of the book and the Boys of the Grant on Facebook.



By the Book – Mentoring

The MSU Fly Gals network is very near and dear to my heart, so when the god father of the group, Bill Taylor, asks for help I happily offer my assistance. In this case Bill asked if I would co-author a chapter in a book about mentoring. Bill wanted to include the Fly Gals program in the book because it has become a rather unique mentoring experience for the participants.

I am a leadership and mentoring geek so this was both and interesting and exciting assignment. I enlisted Kerryann Weaver, one of the early participant in the MSU Fly Gals program, to be the co-author. Kerry and I took a Socratic approach to our chapter and wrote it very conversationally. We hoped it would make for both entertaining and informative reading. Kerry not only contributed to our chapter, she handled all interaction with the editorial team, keeping our contribution to the book on track!

The American Fisheries Society published Future of Fisheries: Perspectives for Emerging Professionals, in July. Our chapter, Fly-Fishing for the Future: How the Michigan State University Fly Gals Are Mentoring Future Conservation Leaders is in the Leadership in Practice section.


Future of Fisheries contain 70 mentoring pieces from a vast array of fisheries professionals. The vignettes as they are called, offer a wide variety of personal “lessons learned” and insights into emerging challenges. The book is a handy reference tool to what has worked, creative problem solving and a look into the future.

From the AFS website:

Future of Fisheries: Perspectives for Emerging Professionals contains more than 70 short mentoring
vignettes on past experiences and visions for the future authored by many notable mentors from the fisheries field. The volume is intended to inspire and empower the next generation of fisheries professionals with advice from seasoned professionals by providing personal “lessons learned” and insights from the topics that most influenced their illustrious careers while also addressing the most urgent issues on the horizon for fisheries.

Like having a mentor on hand at the turn of a page, this book bridges a vital gap in our field by using the unique structure of mentoring vignettes to advise young fisheries professionals on how to achieve success as a fisheries professional and on what concepts will be relevant and important for the future of the fisheries profession.”

I am thrilled to have contributed to this project and look forward to reading and sharing the many other excellent insights in the book. If you are interested in fish, fishing and mentoring I think you will find this book a worthy addition to your bookshelf.

A story in Pulp Fly V3

The latest edition of Pulp Flypulpflycoverready3-sm was released this month and I had the honor and privilege of being a contributor in this edition. I found my chapter nestled in among works by very talented writers who are gifted story tellers.

Truth be told I was pretty apprehensive about the whole enterprise. Writing a short story is not something I have done a lot of. My last experience was in an 8th grade creative writing class at Derryfield School. My offering about a freewheeling rake was considered such far fetched fantasy by one of my classmates, she wrote her own version of my story from a young woman’s point of view. Needless to say I quit the genre and took up fishing…

I do enjoy telling stories and putting one down on virtual paper to be sold to the public is a leap of faith. Not sure I will keep at it because as Robert Heinlein said “Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of, but do it in private and wash your hands afterwards.”

You can get a copy for yourself at Pulp Fly.

New Book from Kent Cowgill

Sunlit Riffles and Shadowed RunsKent Cowgill recently sent me a flyer about his new book Sunlit Riffles and Shadowed Runs.

From what I am reading it looks like it should be a good one.

Sunlit Riffles and Shadowed Runs

I am excited to read it and will post a review when I’m finished.

Stay tuned!

Happy Anniversary S.C.O.F.

Meeting the rascals behind the great quarterly online journal Southern Culture on the Fly this summer at the International Fly Tackle Dealer in Reno, NV was one the highlights of the trip. Dave and Steve have an infectious spirit of  mischief that was right up my alley. So having a chance to see them in action was a treat.

This latest issue marks the 0ne year anniversary for the enterprise and it is chock full of great stuff, including a look at the fun that was IFTD and a couple of tunes to download from a Dispatch favorite, the Wrinkle Neck Mules. Here at Dispatches we raise a glass of Knob in their honor to mark this great milestone.

With its terrific photos and great writing S.C.O.F. is like a mini vacation to a sweet fishing spot right there on you computer screen. In between issues you can keep up with the latest news on their blog, Those of us who fish and guide in the southeast are fortunate to have this excellent journal around to chronicle the special magic of fly-fishing in this neck of the woods.

Give S.C.O.F. a read and don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss out in the future!


“Keeper” is just that.

When I received my copy of Martin Donovan’s book Keeper, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I am delighted to report that is one of the more entertaining fishing books I have ever read.

“Donny” as he is affectionately known, tells tales of growing up in Southhampton, England and how his world travels lead him back to the river Test.  He lands a job, first as an underkeeper then as the riverkeeper, on the Nursling beat. He eventually moves his family to the Whitchurch beat where he serves as riverkeeper today.

Riverkeepers on England’s fabled chalk streams are a mixture of guide, conservationist, warden and gardener. Donovan’s story telling, mixed with his wry English wit, make the reading quite a pleasure.

Cover Image

Donovan thoughtfully opens the book with guide to the Queen’s English which helps explains the some of the odd expressions and set the stage for much of Donovan’s entertaining prose.

Keeper is populated with some exceptional characters adding depth and color to Donovan’s narratives. The fishers, poachers, keepers, townspeople and friends help create texture and substance to each story as foils and supporting actors.

Each chapter offers a story in and of itself with the early chapters providing a wonderful view of Donovan’s journey to the Test. Once he is in residence on the Test the stories turn to the trials and tribulations of keeper on this fabled chalk stream.

While the humor makes the stories eminently readable there are great insights into the role of keeper as a steward of the resource and the sport. Those insights make Keeper live up to its title in more ways than one.

You can get a copy of Keeper from Departure Publishing.

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