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Chronicles of a lifelong love of fishing.

A Naturalist Goes Fishing

James McClintock

ST. MARTIN'S PRESS, $25.99

In A Naturalist Goes Fishing, James McClintock shares personal stories of the decades-long avocation that helped steer him into a career as a marine biologist. It hasn't always been idyllic frittering away a warm summer's day on the banks of a lazy river.

In Antarctica's cold, where fish have natural antifreeze in their blood, McClintock accompanied other researchers as they angled for giant Antarctic toothfish by dropping a 450-meter-long line through a meter-wide hole drilled in the sea ice about five kilometers offshore. And in the Bahamas, while he was snorkeling with his ecology students, a moray eel mistook a glint from his wedding ring for a small fish and nearly ripped his finger off.

From his native Alabama to remote locales in New Zealand and Costa Rica, McClintock takes the reader on fascinating trips. He has angled for small fish using hand lines (no fishing pole, only hooks and bait), and he has sought to catch huge blue marlin with a rod and reel holding more than a mile of fishing line.

McClintock's tales of adventure and occasional misadventure are chock-full of details about fish and their ecology, along with vivid descriptions of his surroundings and experiences. Among folksy anecdotes about his boatmates and the types of bait they're using, he slips in facts about the threats that fish face worldwide--habitat loss, ocean acidification, oil spills and overfishing, to name just a few.

He also outlines efforts to save fish. For instance, many billfish such as blue marlin once ended up at the taxidermist, but today about 97 percent of blue marlin landed by recreational fishermen are released back to the sea. Studies show that fish survive catch and release, a practice that McClintock often follows both in freshwater and at sea, more often than many anglers believe.

As you read McClintock's riveting accounts and imagine the thrill of the fish on the line, you barely realize how much information you're soaking up. Don't throw this book back. It's a keeper.--Sid Perkins

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Author:Perkins, Sid
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Book review
Date:Oct 31, 2015
Words:356
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