If you are a little late with your Christmas shopping and your pocketbook won’t underwrite a new boat and four-stroke outboard or a new ATV for the sportsman or sportswoman in your life, cheer up. There is always outdoor reading material, which can make a wonderful, personal gift at a price within your reach.

V. Paul Reynolds, Outdoors Columnist

There is available to you online one-stop shopping for a wide array of outdoor books with a Maine connection. Simply go online to www.sportingjournal.com. Click on “Outdoor Books.” At this site, you will be able to peruse a collection of outdoor books, complete with a synopsis of the book and instructions on how to order. Prices for these books are listed with each book.

Although there is not a book listed that would not make a great Christmas gift, I have a few favorites. Here they are:

1. Squaretail, by Bob Mallard

The book certainly is, as advertised, “The definitive guide to brook trout and where to find them.” Mallard leaves no stone unturned. His wife Diana and other photographers have added immeasurably to the book’s eye appeal with exceptional photographs of stunning male brookies adorned in their fall colors. The book is available online at www.bobmallard.com. You can’t say it enough. Maine is blessed with a wild native brook trout fishery like no other in the continental U.S. And, as Mallard points out, experience elsewhere teaches us that there are perils for this coveted game fish, the most significant of which in Maine is the worrisome plague of invasive fish species in our trout waters.

“Squaretail” is a wonderful book about trout and how and where to fish for them. It likewise gives wider exposure and permanence to Mallard’s laudable trout-preservation message.

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2. Behind the Cast, by Dale Wheaton

In his new book, “Behind the Cast,” storyteller and guide Dale Wheaton catapults Downeast outdoor humor to a whole new level. Wheaton, who springs from a solid legacy of guiding and a sporting camp culture in Forest City, Maine, relives his recollections mostly from a career pursued from the stern of a Grand Laker canoe. Not only is this man clever with the written word, he is in his soul a humorist through and through.

What Wheaton teaches us right off the bat is that, when you guide, it’s the people, not the fish, that are unforgettable. With razor-sharp wit and delightful descriptions, a dab of psycho-analysis and well-honed philosophy, Wheaton portrays and profiles the most memorable sports who shared his canoe. That he is able to do this in a way that is simultaneously hilarious and heartwarming and never mean-spirited is a tribute not only to his skill as a writer but to his decent nature as a person and licensed guide.

3. Fly Fishing the Hex Hatch, by Leighton Wass

The Hex mayfly is the star of Wass’s book and he explains in patient detail and good humor all of the distinctions in a way that even I can understand. Insofar as I know, Wass is plowing new ground in a field populated with books about fly fishing tactics and insect identification.

This 310-page book, with its 250-plus photos and illustrations, is a must-read for experienced fly anglers and novices alike. Topics addressed include how to predict the timing of a Hex hatch, how to be prepared for an evening of fishing, the author’s top five Hex flies, the Hex mayfly’s life cycle, and the confusion surrounding common names. In addition, the 160 Hex ponds and lakes named in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont are the most ever listed, and an index allows readers to pinpoint pages where specific bodies of water are discussed. “Fly Fishing the Hex Hatch” has voice, humor, heart and a breeziness that I found engaging. It’s a comprehensive, instructive book and a fun read for the novice angler or the stream-seasoned veteran.

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4. Fly Fishing Maine Rivers, Brooks and Streams, by Bob Leeman

For the fly fisherman, this is a useful, practical how-to angling manual, unmatched by its thoroughness, originality and authoritative advice. Bob shares his own fly creations along with recipes and striking color photos of each fly. Send a check of $19.95, plus $4 for postage to Bob Leeman, 992 Ohio St., Bangor, ME 04401.

And, of course, a one-year mail subscription to the Northwoods Sporting Journal is bound to please any sportsman or sportswoman at Christmas time. Just call the Northwoods Sporting Journal at 207-732-4880 or use the website at www.sportingjournal.com.

Merry Christmas!

V. Paul Reynolds is editor of the Northwoods Sporting Journal, an author, a Maine guide and host of a weekly radio program, “Maine Outdoors,” heard at 7 p.m. Sundays on The Voice of Maine News-Talk Network. Contact him at vpaulr@tds.net.


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