Cover image for The complete angler : a Connecticut Yankee follows in the footsteps of Walton
The complete angler : a Connecticut Yankee follows in the footsteps of Walton
Prosek, James, 1975-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : HarperCollinsPublishers, 1999.
Physical Description:
xi, 324 pages : color illustrations, map ; 21 cm
Subject Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
SH606 .P76 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



"Izaak Walton was my excuse to go to England. I had been thinking through ideas to get money from Yale in the form of a traveling fellowship for two years, and several attempts had failed. My last--and best--idea was to suggest to the fellowship committee that I go to England and fish in the footsteps of a legitimate seventeenth-century author, Izaak Walton, who wrote The Compleat Angler, the third most frequently reprinted book in the English language, one that has been in print for over three hundred years. I told them during my interview that Walton's words spoke to me, that fishing was my passion, and that his book represented and defended every facet of the art more lucidly than I ever could."

-- James Prosek

James Prosek has been called "the Audubon of the fishing world" by the New York Times. A passionate fisherman and talented artist from a young age, he published two illustrated books on fish and fishing while still an undergraduate at Yale. After winning a traveling fellowship to follow in the footsteps of Izaak Walton, The Compleat Angler became his obsession. He was fascinated by Walton, a humble man who won the friendship of kings, and he was intrigued by the book's philosophies concerning the timelessness and immortality that could be achieved by fishing. Although Walton was sixty when The Compleat Angler was published and Prosek only twenty when he set off to visit England, they each had traits in common: a love of fishing and an extraordinary ability to make friends.

This is the story of a young man's pilgrimage through England, fishing the waters that are now privately held. Along with wonderful stories about good times, great fishing, and fine eating, this trip becomes an exploration of Waltonian ideals: how to live with humor, wisdom, contentment, and simplicity.

The original watercolors complementing the text are wonderful. Like Walton's book, The Complete Angler is not about fishing but about life. Or rather, it is about fishing--but fishing is life.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Prosek won a fellowship to study Izaak Walton's Compleat Angler, the third most reprinted book (after the Bible and Shakespeare's plays) and "the least-read best-known book--on angling at least." The result is Prosek's third book, which centers on his travels in England, where he retraced Walton's footsteps, fishing his trout rivers and exploring London and the countryside. Prosek capably explains the history of Walton's time and analyzes the historic and religous meaning of Walton's writing. Along with historians and students of literature, travelers and anglers will enjoy the trip. Suggest this unique volume--with 18 colorplates of Prosek's beautiful paintings--not only to anglers but also to people who like the literary travel writing of William Least-Heat Moon and Paul Theroux. --John Rowen

Publisher's Weekly Review

Prosek (Trout) recounts the adventures he had while fulfilling both his love of fly-fishing and the requirements of his senior college thesis. Traveling on a grant, he roved the English countryside, visiting significant landmarks and streams in the life of Izaak Walton, the 17th-century angler and writer who penned The Compleat Angler, the book considered by many to be the definitive work on the sport. Prosek envisions his own work as "a popular, not entirely scholarly piece, with hopes that Walton's works may enjoy more readers." Indeed, there is much careful research into Walton's life. Prosek is particularly interested in the idea that Walton came to think of angling as his religion, much as Prosek does himself, but he realizes that while biography reveals almost as much about the writer as it does about the subject, such a neat comparison could well be romantic and wishful thinking. Prosek points out that Walton, an adherent of the Church of England, wrote his own book after fleeing London during the English Civil War, and one Walton scholar makes a case that Walton's book was really a coded polemic whose proper title was The Compleat Anglican. In any event, Prosek's take could aptly be named The Compleat Anglophile (which Prosek admits to being), and at times the proper tone and borrowed British idioms are pretentious. The book's charm, however, lies in its quiet realism, both in Prosek's honest reflections and in his vivid paintings, which accompany the text. 18 full-color plates. Author tour. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved