Trout Culture: How Fly Fishing Forever Changed the Rocky Mountain West


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Trout Culture: How Fly Fishing Forever Changed the Rocky Mountain West Author: Format: Paperback / softback First Published: Published By: University of Washington Press Pages: 248 Illustrations and other contents: 34 illus., 3 maps Language: English ISBN: 9780295741703 Categories: , , , , , , ,

From beer labels to literary classics like A River Runs Through It, trout fishing is a beloved feature of the iconography of the American West. But as Jen Brown demonstrates in Trout Culture: How Fly Fishing Forever Changed the Rocky Mountain West, the popular conception of Rocky Mountain trout fishing as a quintessential experience of communion with nature belies the sport’s long history of environmental manipulation, engineering, and, ultimately, transformation. A fly-fishing enthusiast herself, Brown places the rise of recreational trout fishing in a local and global context. Globally, she shows how the European sport of fly-fishing came to be a defining, tourist-attracting feature of the expanding 19th-century American West. Locally, she traces the way that the burgeoning fly-fishing tourist industry shaped the environmental, economic, and social development of the Western United States: introducing and stocking favored fish species, eradicating the less favored native “trash fish,” changing the courses of waterways, and leading to conflicts with Native Americans’ fishing and territorial rights. Through this analysis, Brown demonstrates that the majestic trout streams often considered a timeless feature of the American West are in fact the product of countless human interventions adding up to a profound manipulation of the Rocky Mountain environment.

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Engaging, perceptive, interpretive, meticulously researched and documented. . . . This careful delineation and assessment of the evolution of western trout culture will be valuable for those interested in the history of the American West as well as students of science and aquaculture. * Choice * [A] remarkable book. Brown's pithy, beautifully written prose conveys an important message: that anglers and managers need to stop imagining western lakes and rivers as wild places and start thinking about how the human history of Rocky Mountain trout has had a disastrous impact on ecologically significant native species that genteel recreationists too readily deemed 'trash fish.' -- Miles Powell * Western Historical Quarterly * Trout Culture appealingly recounts the complex dance of environmental and social changes that led to the western icon. . . . A valuable, clear, and timely contribution. . . . Trout Culture is an excellent, engaging book that will appeal to scholars and general readers alike -- Terence Young * Environmental History * This is a well-researched, richly detailed history of trout and trout fishing in the Mountain West that, as the author promises, 'overturns the biggest fish story ever told.' -- John Gierach * Wall Street Journal * Readable and thought-provoking. . . . The author does not sugarcoat the story of trout fishing in the West, and she deserves credit for being a voice for the native fish of all species that existed prior to human attempts to change nature's plan and for documenting how the trout and angling opportunities we have in the Rocky Mountain West came to be. -- James Thull * Montana *

Author Biography

Jen Corrinne Brown is professional assistant professor of history at Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi.