Podcast: Author John McPhee and His Favorite Fish


[Interview starts at 24:10]

This week’s podcast guest is especially exciting to me, as he is one of my literary heroes. John McPhee is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author (Annals of the Former World, 1999), and in his numerous other books, he has written about such diverse topics as nuclear energy, the merchant marine, basketball, Alaska, bark canoes, oranges, continental drift, flood control, tennis, farmer’s markets, and many other eclectic topics. Whether or not you are interested in a subject, you can be sure you will be when you finish reading one of his books, you will be fascinated. 

John has also been a staff writer for The New Yorker since the 1960s. In our interview, he talks about his two favorite fish to catch on the fly rod–the American shad (which he wrote an entire book about, The Founding Fish), and the chain pickerel, which he did not write a book about but did pen a short essay about Esox niger in his collection of stories The Patch. I doubt is anyone in the world who would count those two fish in combination as their favorites, but he is never conventional. I hope you enjoy the interview as much as I enjoyed talking to him.

In the Fly Box, we have some great questions and tips:

  • A reminder from a listener that I wrote an encyclopedia of fly fishing.
  • Some great tips from a listener on using tippet rings.
  • A question about what constitutes a watershed when concerned about transporting aquatic invasives.
  • A suggestion from a listener on ways to offset your carbon footprint when taking fishing trips.
  • Which is a better rod for fishing the surf and jetties–a traditional 9-foot 9-weight rod or a two-handed rod?
  • Do you always recommend using a net?
  • A listener calls me on the carpet for my flippant remark about manhandling carp.
  • A great thought from a listener that sometimes taking photos of fish hinders the moment.

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