If you have a good library, add Squaretail and make it a great one
By Skip Clement
Bob Mallard’s newest book, Squaretail, is a certifiable classic.
What sets Squaretail apart from other “fishing” books?
Bob Mallard is the author of umpteen articles and a few books on how to successfully fly fish Maine and other near destinations. Bob is also a highly credentialed Maine fly fishing guide, former fly shop owner and master fly tyer. And yet he decided to write a book about one fish, brook trout. Not fly fishing for it, but about it.
Squaretail does travel the land where our nation’s “first fish” was the symbolic trout of the new world. At each stop he explains how it has faired under the care of the careless lot of folks we’ve proven to be. Where brook trout can still be found and successfully fished for, but if you’re looking for X marks the spot – Forgedaboutit. Mallard doesn’t go there.
What Squaretail is about is the most iconic freshwater fish of our forefathers, North America’s “first” native fish, brook trout. Mallard explains why special interests, habitat degradation, and lousy stewardship science have slaughtered somewhere around 50% of the bountifulness of double-digit brook trout we were given charge of.
The threat to the nation’s wild native brook trout come from many sources including industry, government, private landowners, and Mother Nature, as well as from within the angling community. The tendency is to blame the other guy, we sportsmen [and women] have done as much damage as anyone else. At least indirectly, and in some cases, we are still doing so.
Like everything else, the threats to native brook trout are subject to interpretation and debate. For every position, there is a counter-position, and you must peel back the onion to truly understand what is going on.
Many studies regarding the impacts or non-impacts, of activities on native fish, are funded by industry, including aquaculture, hydropower, resource extraction, agriculture, and recreational angling.
These groups all have an agenda, and that is to protect their turf. Studies that contradict one another are common – used as arguments to discredit the other side and confuse the masses.”
— the author, Bob Mallard
Brook “trout” is a misnomer like a bison is not buffalo, and North American corn is maze
European arrivals were easily mistaken naming the abundant and muscular fish a trout [up to 15-pounds], just as they were with lake trout, Dolly Varden trout, and bull trout. Their lifelong experience in much of Europe had been brown trout.
What they got right was that those misnamed fish are all Salmonidae, but they are all char. The brook trout is Salvelinus fontinalis [Salvelinus is a member of the subfamily Salmoninae within the family Salmonidae].
Mallard is a registered Maine guide, former fly shop owner, nationally recognized fly designer extraordinaire, and known for his two priorly published books. Both books popular, 50 Best Places Fly Fish the Northeast, and 25 Best Towns Fly Fishing for Trout. And also for three Kindle books covering fly fishing regional Maine rivers. Also, Bob writes regularly for many of the national fly fishing publications like Southern Trout, Fly Fisherman, Eastern Fly Fishing, Angling Trade, Tenkara Angler, Fly Tyer, Fly Fishing & Tying Journal, Fly Fish America, and Outdoor Life.
Mallard’s Squaretail is the best book about “brook trout” since Nick Karas’ epoch Brook Trout written in 1997, and prior to that, The Speckled Brook Trout by Louis Rhead circa 1902
Mallard’s book is a certifiable classic, but at first glance appears to be what the book’s cover suggests – a coffee table book. And it certainly qualifies as such because the photographers, Diana Mallard, and Bob, are both artists in the medium of lenses, composition, and light. All the images in the book magnify the story. I have revisited its pages just for the photography several times.
Mallard’s story of brook trout in the U. S. is a tale with the hope for a happy ending pending hurdles of every environmental impediment being adjudicated wisely. It will take principled individuals, advocacy organizations, and agencies of federal, state and local governments all harmonizing efforts to restore native fish in hospitable habitats. Bob feels we need to stop moving non-native fish around as if barnyard chicken feed – pushing native fish out of house and home.
Mallard writes beautifully; his passion doesn’t poke through here and there – it’s on full display for over 200 pages
Twice I came away late in the evening haunted by what’s in the next chapter and in the morning anxious to get back on the saddle.
Thanks, Bob, Squaretail is a beautiful read, and everyone loves good looking.