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River Guides of the Miramichi

by Wayne Curtis

For those belonging to the group Izaak Walton called “the brotherhood of the angle,” for those who understand the terms shad‚ grilse‚ wooley bugger‚ and guiding lady, Wayne Curtis’s River Guides of the Miramichi will, at the least, be a desirable read. Whether it ends up on one’s bookshelf of piscatoriana will depend on the reader’s taste in fishing books.

If tips on how and where to catch the big ’un are needed, this book will only help indirectly. If, on the other hand, the reader wants a book that is like a fishing conversation with a friend, Curtis is the man.

The Miramichi River in New Brunswick is one of the most exciting, beautiful, and compelling rivers in the world to fish for salmon, and Wayne Curtis is the third generation of his family to guide fishing folk from all over the world to its best spots. In this book he writes biographical vignettes of more than 25 of his friends – the guides he has known, worked with, and shared his esoteric trade with for, in some cases, more than 50 years. They emerge as dedicated, deeply knowledgeable, brave, and often very funny people – exactly the types you would want to share a day with on such a beautiful river.

Curtis chronicles the river guides’ season, a pitifully short time in which to make enough money to support a family. These 25 weeks of long, hard days begin in early spring, when the guides must often take their guests (whom they call “sports”) out in ice-filled, freezing water. Then there are the hardships of mosquito and black-fly season, followed by the cold days and waters of late fall. Paid only for the guiding they actually get hired to do, they must not only virtually guarantee each guest a good catch every single day, but work the boat in all weathers and waters, cook the midday “shore-lunch,” and, at times, act as father confessor, marriage counsellor, and psychotherapist.

Curtis brings both the life and the people of this great river alive in his homage to a way of life that, however hard, many of his subjects swear they would not swap for anything in the world. For, as one guide asks rhetorically, Where else could a person get paid all summer long to fish the greatest salmon river in the world?


Reviewer: Roger Burford Mason

Publisher: Goose Lane


Price: $14.95

Page Count: 120 pp

Format: Paper

ISBN: 0-86492-224-8

Released: May

Issue Date: 1997-6

Categories: Sports, Health & Self-help