Book Review: Top of the Flood

topofthefloodWe were milling around the tarmac of Quinhagak airfield when Tosh Brown turned to me and said …

“With any luck I’ll be home for my birthday.”

“When is it?”

“Tomorrow.”

He’d already told me he was going to release a book around his birthday in 2014, but next year now took on entirely precise meaning. Having spent the past week zipping around on jetboats, freezing in chest deep tidewaters, and emptying fine Scotch bottles with the guy, I’d already heard enough stories to fill three volumes. Generated many a guffaw too, but I also assumed the book would be a rehash of what I’d already gotten a kick out of hearing first hand.

Never underestimate the adventures one can accumulate given fifty years, some college fraternity brothers, and a few kidney stones. It was all news to me, and I am glad I ignored the offer of a review copy and bought the book instead.

Part autobiography, part comic relief, Top of the Flood is a compendium of stories detailing Tosh’s fishing pursuits from the time he was knee-high to a grasshopper up to sending his children off to college. While Tosh is best know for capturing moments from behind the lens – that is until someone breaks off a hefty chrome-bright king right at the net, exacerbating the need for another line out – he can most certainly spin a yarn too. The tales are good ole’ fashioned life on the water, from hopping golf course fences at dawn and dusk to the pairing that just wouldn’t shut up about all the permit they’d never caught. Nary a vignette included that someone immersed in the sport can’t relate to.

There are a plethora of lessons within worth absorbing as well. Less cookie-cutter, fly-fishing-esque methodical teach n’ preach – instead garnered by reading between the lines – the most important might be that fly-fishing is far from a solitary pursuit. You’ll get few angler v. fish blow-by-blows and cliché mishaps; Tosh does relate the myriad of conditions, both man-made and otherwise, to be encountered in worldly pursuit of fins with feathers, but there is steadfast emphasis on the prodigious array of two-legged characters the angler will inevitably run into.

Finally, if you’ve had your fill of salmonids, and now proclaim you are carving a niche chasing alternative species, Top of the Flood may actually serve useful. Because the future of fly-fishing isn’t some exotic Amazonian bass nor even the common carp … it’s big fat bullfrogs.

Just don’t set the hook too soon.

MG signing off (but not without first letting you know you can buy Top of the Flood here)