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Fly Fishing, Family, Fidelity

March 20, 2015

As most of you know, I have been a fly fisherman for over six decades. I have fished streams all over the world and ultimately found myself writing a book, The Blackest of Canyons. It describes the relationship between the three most fundamental things of value in my life: fly fishing, family and fidelity. Fly fishing has been the conduit through which my family and I shared quality time and the instrument through which passed my early education. Fidelity is what we give of ourselves and what we feel for the things that are truly important in life. Fidelity was the most important thing I learned as a youth and it still serves me well today.

Normally, I don’t have a lot of time to read. This is a common complaint of many authors like myself. There are only 24 hours in the day and most of those are occupied by writing. I am no exception. However, I recently found another great book that incorporates the themes that I wrote about but with an entirely different back drop. Nine Passes: Fishing through the Past and Present of the High Sierra was written by Todd Bruce and embodies the same values I learned as a child. His story is told from the vantage point of the John Muir Trail and the many high mountain lakes around it in the back country of the Sierra Mountains of California. My book starts in one of the valleys below the Mono Craters some miles to the north. The Blackest of Canyons is a journey over decades while Todd’s is a journey over three months that actually encompasses a lifetime. However, many of the essential elements are the same: Fly fishing, family and fidelity.


I was so impressed with Todd’s book that I wrote the following review after I finished reading it:

“Todd Bruce combines a solid mastery of fly fishing, backpacking and love for his family and the beautiful Sierra Nevada Mountains to produce a book of true importance. Authentic in every detail from the choice of flies to the intimate descriptions of the Sierra landscape, the author brings California’s high mountain jewel to life. Retracing the steps of author and fisherman Charles “Mac” McDermand’s 1945 route, this book brings the reader along for the entire 300 miles hike with attention paid in precise detail to what the Sierra back country is really all about. The hike and the fishing are not mere competitions in this book. As Todd Bruce states in Chapter Six, “It is all about being here in this part of the Sierra and enjoying every moment.”

Skillfully interwoven in the narrative is the author’s love and admiration for his family. It was his father who first put a fly rod in the author’s hand. It was his mother who patiently supported the author and his siblings while participating in back country trips. What the author took away from his parents and siblings as a youngster became the foundation for a lifelong love and respect for the wilderness. Family values are examined and carried forward with every step Todd Bruce takes on his three month spiritual quest. The entire trip leaves both the author and the reader feeling completely fulfilled as the last page is turned.

The many photographs that are included give the reader an additional perspective of what the area was like in 1945, 1968 and 2012. The inclusion of these photographs really helps the reader understand both the constants and changes that the author witnessed on his epic journey. Fly fishermen will identify with both the narrative and the accompanying photographs as most have witnessed similar contrasts in their own individual fishing lifetimes.

The true essence of our sport and the timeless family values that nourish and sustain it are gifts that Todd Bruce unselfishly shares with us. This solidly crafted book is highly recommended to fly fishermen and anyone who has gazed at a distant peak with wonder and curiosity.”

I recommend both books very highly. If you are a fly fisherman or outdoors enthusiast, give both a read. You’ll be glad you did. Fly fishing, family and fidelity; in the end, that’s what life boils down to for many of us.

Read author Allen E. Rizzi’s latest books available at

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