Book Review by Mark Hume
Babine River – A 50-Year Celebration of a World-Renowned Steelhead and Trout River.
By Pierce Clegg & Peter McMullan. Frank Amato Publications Inc.
Perhaps it took new comers to see the true value of a great river that British Columbians had been taking for granted for too long. Everyone who has fished the Babine knows that it is a wonderful river, but it took Pierce Clegg, who moved to B.C. from Corvallis, Oregon in 1986 and Peter McMullan, who emigrated to the province from Belfast, Northern Ireland in 1971, to put together a book that brings the greatness of the river into focus.
Pierce, who runs Babine Norlakes Trout Lodge and Steelhead Camp, and Peter, a veteran journalist and skilled fly fisherman, make a formidable team. With Pierce’s great knowledge of the river and a lifetime of contacts through his guides, guests and fishing companions, and Peter’s writing skills, dogged research talents and passion for rivers, they made a great combination and produced a richly detailed book that stands as a tribute to the Babine.
Peter first went to the river to research a magazine piece, but as he fished the waters with Pierce, and talked about the Babine’s history and the threats to its future he realized he needed to do a lot more than knock off one piece.
As they waded and fished together they plotted out the idea for a book, shook hands on the riverbank and then worked on it for years.
The concept for the book really shouldn’t have worked. The idea was to get a whole bunch of different people to tell their stories about the Babine. But for a book to be compelling, it has to have a strong narrative arc, and a singular voice. A book by committee shouldn’t have either. But this has both because the river itself proved to be such a unifying force.
This book is as much about the joy of fishing and the great companionship of anglers as it is about the Babine. It is full of tall tales and great yarns, big fish and fascinating characters.
The artwork by Dave Hall, especially the portrait of a steelhead gracing the cover, is wonderful and Frank Amato pulled out the stops in producing a high quality publication throughout.
Babine is a fitting tribute to a great river. It is commendable that all the profits from the book go to the Babine Watershed Monitoring Trust but regardless of that, this is a book worth having because reading it is almost as much fun as going fishing with all these guys.