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The Moon Pulled up an Acre of Bass: A Flyrodder's Odyssey at Montauk Point    by Peter Kaminsky order for
Moon Pulled up an Acre of Bass
by Peter Kaminsky
Order:  USA  Can
Hyperion, 2001 (2001)

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

The Moon Pulled up an Acre of Bass tells the tale of a different kind of travel, a man's October odyssey in search of catch-and-release encounters with migrating fish. Peter Kaminsky revels in a passion for saltwater flyfishing, and explains that the connoisseur is only truly satisfied by striped bass, which 'so wary in the summer, throw caution to the winds and gather each autumn in a Dionysian riot.' Explaining that the yearly migration past Long Island of fish (from albacore and bass to sharks, whales and dolphins) 'is among the largest wildlife migrations on earth', the author gave me a new perspective on the oceans. He describes the factors that come together to create a location where 'the eternal contest between predator and prey plays out with great intensity each fall.'

Though Montauk, New York, is not itself that far off the beaten track, Peter Kaminsky presents its coastal waters and incredible finned migrations as a fascinating environment that takes time to learn and explore. His book is informative about the evolution of the sport and flycasting techniques, fish conservation efforts, the region and its history, tales of old sailors, and the peculiarities of the locals, fishing guides, and their varied 'bass-crazed' clients. The reader is introduced to an entire subculture of men and women frantically attempting to second guess a mass of moving predators, the winds and tides - all in search of sport. I learned many new words like blitz (huge mass of predators), bait (swarms of finned prey) and shorts (fish under the twenty-eight inch limit).

Descriptions are often lyrical, as in the title itself or 'The pure act of casting is the great joy in flyfishing ... A well-executed flycast looks like the offspring of a ray of light and a gentle ocean wave.' They give readers a sense of being there with the author in the midst of ocean, sky and rampaging fish where 'patches of foam the size of magic carpets rising with the swell and gliding down their faces, the red clouds of bait that turn and sparkle like ten thousand matches flaring and dying, all contribute to the magic of the moment.' Though I have previously enjoyed tales about fishermen like Maurice Walsh's While Rivers Run, I've never had an urge to try it. Yet I found this imagery compelling and can understand the appeal of winds, waves and 'an acre of bass, 'their chomping like the roar of a Roman stadium, all voices clamouring for a kill.'

There is something about a journalist's eye that sees from many different angles, and Peter Kaminsky, like travel writer Bill Bryson, applies his to a witty and entertaining account of ocean adventure at Montauk Point. Read it if you enjoy fishing, love wildlife and nature, or simply are looking for an escape, 'a walkabout into something perfect and outside of time.'

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