MOUNTAIN – Successful authors often suggest a writer should always write what they know most about.
Bill Haigis has taken that advice to heart.
He is an avid and experienced fly fisherman well versed in the lore and technical aspect of his favourite pastime.
His debut book of short stories called Casting About – A Creel of Stories has just been published, and is now available online at Amazon.
Haigis did not write a how to fish kind of book.
Instead, he has used his extensive background in fly-fishing to build an outdoor fishing landscape to attach his stories to.
In these stories a reader can step outside, enjoy some fresh air, and take in the scenery as stories about fishing, the future, crime and passion roll by.
There are stories about the changing world of access to fly-fishing in a once free to roam land, or a story about a drug runner who has stashed his hoard of cash in the Everglades.
There is a tale about two lonely people and how a trout might just be what they need to share.
One story concerns the imagined negative effect on the fly-fishing industry with the advent of fishing simulation games.
Always waiting with a clever or surprise twist, Haigis makes the most of his own experience of a lifetime of enjoying his favourite sport.
“I have been fishing longer than I have been working, “ said Haigis.
He was born in New York State and became a landscape architect. Eventually he made his way to Ottawa and landed a job with the National Capital Commission.
Writing has been something Haigis kept in the back of his mind.
“I always thought I would spend some time writing,” he said.
Writing has always been darting in and out of the author’s life.
“When I was young I always made up stories,” said Haigis.
As a lifelong fisherman, he believes there is a great deal of adventure to be found when you go fishing.
Haigis draws from his real life experience fishing as told in the first story on the book called Montana Dreamin’.
Over the course of 60 years of fly-fishing, he has watched as the health of his favourite pastime has been affected by wealthy land owners and changing environmental issues.
Haigis prefers trout fishing and trout need fast flowing colder temperatures to flourish in a reality that not everyone can agree to protect.
“The first story in the book has a connection between me and fishing in the 1970s. Stream access laws were in place by then in Montana,” said Haigis.
“Whoever owned the properties along the road where I had planned to go fishing had put up barbed wire fencing to keep fishermen out. If I had had a wire cutter I would have used it,” he said.
He remembers how a passing State Trooper suggested he find another place to fish.
He always got permission to fish on private property; however, it was something years before you did not need. You simply walked down to the water’s edge and started fishing.
His encounter with a fence between him and his fishing was a sign of an increasingly challenging aspect of the idea of just going out to enjoy an afternoon of fly-fishing.
With help from his wife Nancy, who did a lot of the editing of his book and, help from a neighbour in setting up the format, Haigis said he was able to enjoy the part he liked the most – the writing.
“Once I started a story I would know where I wanted it to go,” he said.
He has become an advocate for the short story.
The book is well written and easy to digest even for non-fishing readers on a hot summer afternoon.