Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Review: Angler Management

Angler Management: The Day I Died While Fly Fishing and Other Essays by Jack Ohman.

Angler Management is cartoonist Jack Ohman’s first book of essays and shows that Ohman is as funny with words as he is with pictures.

In this collection, Ohman discusses the obsession that is fly fishing, writing about the compulsive collecting of gear, the frustration of trying to talk to a fly fisherman (even if you are one yourself), the secrecy of fishing spots, the aggravating hobby of tying your own flies (or even more loony, building your own rods), and other crazy-making aspects of what Tom Brokaw calls the “high church” of fishing.

Most of the essays cover general fly fishing topics. However, as Ohman is a self-described “delusional humorist with a fatal streak of nostalgia,” the best pieces are those involving his own experiences and memories, including his reminiscences on his boyhood stream, the Kinnikinnick in Wisconsin, and his story of “the day I died while fly fishing” on Kelly Creek in Idaho.  Even little asides such as this one in an essay on high-tech fishing equipment bring personality to the book:
I was raised by a PhD research scientist, and I can tell you firsthand that he viewed liberal arts majors as ethereal slacker stoners with no real understanding of how the world works, let alone how to turn on a Bunsen burner or create penicillin in a petri dish (when I was a child, my dad once gave me some penicillin that he personally created -- I can't even make a Manhattan without consulting the Internet). One way that we've figured out how to make ourselves feel, well, more scientific, is to inject science into art -- specifically, the art of fly fishing.
Anglers and non-anglers alike will get a chuckle out of Angler Management, but it is definitely aimed at fellow enthusiasts and their co-dependents. It is too late to recommend it for Father’s Day this year, but it would be worth stashing away a few copies for the fly fishermen on your Christmas list.

(If you would like your review of this or any other Jack Ohman book listed here, please leave a comment with a link and I will add it.)


  1. Looks like a good read. Hmm, I think I know just the right person to give the book too when Christmas rolls around.


  2. Hi Gilion,
    It was great meeting you tonight, and glad to have found your blog! I've got you in my Google Reader now, so I can follow your book escapades. :)


  3. SS -- Perfect for the fisherman on your list! There are also plenty of funny illustrations, since he is a cartoonist.

    Cara -- Nice to meet you as well! I will track down Prose Posies next!

  4. My father in law is getting this for Christmas! and maybe my father, too! Great review!

  5. Jack came to The Oregonian as something like a 24-year-old kid with a huge amount of talent and the odd, puckish, somehow humble sort of bravado to back it up. That was a long time ago, and he's only got better with age. I can't imagine how hard it is to face that single-panel deadline every day, yet he rarely produces a dud, and sometimes he's absolutely brilliant. The long form suits him well: not just his books but also his occasional extended cartoons, in which he reports and tells stories about the things that matter in our society. I'm just home from Santa Fe where I saw an exhibition of some of the best of the great political cartoonist Pat Oliphant, and Jack at his best is entirely comfortable in that rarefied company. We are lucky to know him, and have him.

  6. Marie -- Excellent gift choice! I think my dad will get one too, although he is not much of a fisherman.

    Bob -- It's nice to read such a glowing commendation from one of Jack's professional cohorts. I think the Big O is lucky to have Jack and to keep him for so long. He is a true talent.


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