Cover image for The next valley over : an angler's progress
The next valley over : an angler's progress
Gaines, Charles, 1942-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Crown Publishers, 2000.
Physical Description:
xvi, 237 pages ; 22 cm
Personal Subject:
Subject Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library SH441 .G33 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Acclaimed sporting and adventure writer Charles Gaines has spent much of his life on the water, around the world, fishing rod in hand, angling for trout, redfish, salmon, bonefish, bass, marlin, tuna, and practically everything else that swims. Just about any place where there's water to fish and eccentrics to keep him company, Charles has been. The Next Valley Over, a collection of his best writing on fishing over the years, culled from the pages of Men's Journal, Forbes FYI, Sports Afield, and other journals, is about the heart of the sport. While his stories are lined with the accoutrement of angling--the art of technique, the equipment, the lodges, the fish themselves--they're really about why we love to fish and what it means to our culture. As Thoreau once said: "Many men go fishing all their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after." What "they are after" is what Charles is curious about, and he has devoted a better part of his life and sanity to coming up with answers. His pilgrimage is divided into three parts. "Striking the Tent" sets the tone--the spark is ignited on Lake Tadpole when Charles can start to see the design of his life as a fisherman, the stillness and perfect solitude of a day starting at 3:45 a.m. casting to cruising brown trout in Tasmania; a Montana guide who has given up all material possessions to spend his life fishing; a day in the life of the world's greatest fishing lodge. Part Two, "Gone Fishing," is the relentless pursuit of "the next valley over." Charles takes us around the world (seventeen countries) to fish for just about every species known to man. Here is the essence of fishing stories, with exotic locales, a wide cast of characters, and a lot of partying. In the process, Charles almost "wanders off the edge of his own map." The final part, "Rounding Third," finds Charles turning fifty and putting things into perspective: gaining an understanding for the fragility of the wild environments he loves; taking more care and time with his fishing; and completing the circle of his angler's progress back to the home water where he started and which he comes to know truly for the first time.

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

Gaines is the author of Pumping Iron and countless magazine pieces about sports and outdoor adventure. Fans of his fishing essays will appreciate that 14 very good ones have been collected into this delightful book. All are worthy of reading and rereading for their insights about angling, environmental concerns, and human nature, as demonstrated by a multitude of interesting characters encountered around boats, lodges, and waterways all over the world. The first section, "Striking the Tent," features stories about Gaines's earliest fishing experiences and how they shaped his destiny. The book's title comes from the opening essay of Part 2, "Gone Fishing," which recounts many trips to exotic destinations questing primarily for larger, more exciting gamefish. The final section, "Rounding Third," reflects a mellowed wisdom that comes from discovering tremendous pleasure and satisfaction back on "Home Waters." Highly recommended for public libraries.--Will Hepfer, SUNY at Buffalo Libs. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



It is April in Alabama, 1957. The dogwoods are vivid and suggestive on the hillsides surrounding the lake, and the bass and bluegills are on the beds. Fifteen years old and more wise-ass by far than I have any need to be, I am in the bow of an aluminum johnboat. My father sits in the stern, running the electric motor. He is fifty-one, in his prime. He is happy and open this afternoon as he always is when he is fishing, particularly on this lake. The lake, which my mother has named Tadpole, is less than an hour from our home in Birmingham. My father and a couple of other men have owned it for two years. It is his haven from his job and other demons, and it is our haven from the worst of each other. My father is working the shoreline with a yellow popping bug, covering every good lie with his jerky but efficient fly-casting, catching (so far; we have just gotten to the lake, and dusk, the best time for bass, is a couple of hours away) lots of bluegills the size of your hand. He whoops every time he hooks a fish, and cackles as he plays the bluegills' tight, furious circlings. This annoys me. The whooping and cackling seem out of proportion to the hooking and catching of such small, common fish. I slouch and dream in the bow, as is usually my wont for the first half hour or so of our trips out here. I think of the River Dee in Scotland, about which I have recently read, and the salmon that live in it, and I scroll the surface of the water with the tip of my Orvis Superfine fly rod. The honey-colored cane rod was my father's Christmas gift to me a few months before, and it annoys him that I am using it now so carelessly, to so little end, but he won't say anything about it--not here. He does say, "You'd better throw your worm in the water, Skip. Fishing's not a spectator sport, buddy." He says this often, and he means life as much as he does fishing, long before that sentiment became a bumper sticker. I work out some line and wonder how a man his age, a man who has caught marlin and other huge fish in places I dream of going to, who I've seen catch bonefish in the Bahamas and brown trout in Montana, could possibly get so worked up over the little bluegills here in Lake Tadpole. Maybe, I think, he's faking it. For me, maybe. But my father never fakes anything, and I know that. We both cast to a log angling into the water off the bank. "Fish in your half of the boat, Skip," says my father. A bluegill sucks in his popper with the sound they make, like blowing a kiss. My father whoops and cackles, his face glistening with joy. "There's plenty of lake here for both of us." We always had home water to come back to, to catch bass and bluegills and to get along, but from the git-go, fishing to me meant traveling to fish. My father loved to travel, as long as he could do it in style and make fishing the major if not the only point. In the manner of the forties and fifties, he and my mother usually traveled without children, but they would take me and my sister along with them once or twice a year and on a two-week vacation out west every summer. Neither my mother nor my sister was interested in fishing. That left me, and I became his fishing partner on these family trips--to Florida and the Bahamas, Wisconsin, Maine, Mexico, the Rocky Mountains--from the time I was old enough to hold a rod. I believe that the majority of anglers who travel to fish are by nature either pastoralists or nomads. My father was a pastoralist, a pure lodge man, who liked to go someplace and hole up there for the duration of the trip, getting to know a particular piece of water in intimate detail over a period of time while having the same table for dinner every night. I, on the other hand, was a born nomad. I can remember, in my teens, lying awake at night in dude-ranch cabins in Montana, fantasizing about stealing the keys to the rented car parked outside. I would take my waders, a rod, and a pack full of bananas and hot dogs, and I would depart that single valley to which Fate and my father's vacation choice had confined me, and drive north to the next valley over--and then to the next, and the next, fishing each as I went until I ran out of Montana. Then I thought--if Lynne Dye wasn't already writing me passionate entreaties to come home to Alabama and marry her--I might just continue on into Canada, and then into whatever place was north of Canada. But though I was from the beginning, in my soul and dreams anyway, a fishing nomad, I did acquire early on from my father his pastoralist appreciation for fishing lodges and camps. In fact, while he was unforgivingly discriminating about them, I have rarely met a fishing lodge I didn't like (though certainly I have liked some much better than others). I believe this is because for as far back as my memory goes I have associated fishing lodges with vacations, with my father's big, hearty, entertaining presence, and with unspoken but unbreakable truces between the two of us as long as we were in one: with fun, peace, and good humor, in other words. And to this day I'm happy for a night or two in lodges that serve up nothing much more than that, along with edible food. Excerpted from The Next Valley Over: An Angler's Progress by Charles Gaines All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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