A Trout Fisherman’s Soul
Dog Ear Publishing (2016)
Reviewed by David K. McDonnell for Reader Views (12/16)
“A Trout Fisherman’s Soul” by Tony Dincau is an introspective look at a family fishing trip. The trip is described in almost excruciating detail, but the book is far more than a memoir of a family vacation. It is one man’s effort to bond with his son and nephew, re-bond with his brother, and reminisce about his father and grandfather – all of whom have taken the same fishing trip at one time or another.
The author’s father and grandfather had long since passed on, but his fishing trips with them on the Flag River in Wisconsin remained some of his fondest memories. The fishing was, of course, a major part of the memories. But more so was the experiences shared by grandfather, father, and son. The trip chronicled in “A Trout Fisherman’s Soul” was the author’s effort to instill the same connection – to family and nature – in his own young son.
The book, unfortunately, is rife with distracting clichés. As but a few examples, the young fishermen are “green behind the ears” until they get experience “under their belts.” The biggest fish is “top banana” and the cousins are “two peas in a pod.” And everyone had to “work out the kinks” and be “clear as a bell.” These lapses were unnecessary since much of the writing is insightful and passionate. As but one example:
“I sensed something special while watching the profile of my son who stood alongside me. My own image was resurrected in a touching way. Why was it more obvious now than ever before? He resembled me at that age…but that wasn’t it. The physical similarity enhanced the image, but there was something deeper. Maybe because he was decked out in trout gear and stood over our family stream. The peace and solitude out there magnified our father-son moments… [H]e didn’t just go through the motions, but instead showed a passion for the art. He was much like me in that manner. He worked his line like someone with more experience. It came naturally to him, and I couldn’t help but soulfully stare. Perhaps my elders had a similar feeling when they fished with me years ago.”
Dincau faced a daunting task in “A Trout Fisherman’s Soul,” and that is taking an intensely personal experience and presenting it in a way that may be shared by a stranger. Writing such a book may be therapeutic for the author but not necessarily of interest to a reader. One may recall the peculiar wit or peculiarities of a family member with fondness, but such humor and quirks do not easily translate on the written page.
Despite these difficulties and limitations, in “A Trout Fisherman’s Soul” Tony Dincau does an admirable job in articulating his attachments to his father and grandfather, gained in large part during their many trips on the Flag River, and expressing his desire to pass the same feelings onto his son. These are indeed emotions shared by us all.