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A Naturalist Goes Fishing: Casting in Fragile Waters from the Gulf of Mexico to New Zealand's South Island

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In the tradition of fishing classics, A Naturalist Goes Fishing combines elements of the triumph between fisher and fish, humor and wit, and a passionate concern for the natural environment.

James McClintock takes us to some of the most breathtaking waters the world has to offer while capturing the drama and serendipity in the beloved sport of fishing. We follow him and his fishing buddies and professional guides, as he fishes off the marshy barrier islands of Louisiana, teeming with life but also ravaged by recent disasters like the Deepwater Horizon spill. We travel to the remote waters of New Zealand's Stewart Island, where the commercial fishing industry is fast disappearing; fish for gigantic Antarctic toothfish through a drilled ice hole at McMurdo Station; and scout for spotted bass on Alabama's Cahaba River, which has the highest diversity of fresh water fish in North America. As we take this global journey, we see how sea level rise, erosion, pollution, water acidification, and overfishing each cause damage.

This strikingly beautiful narrative is a must read for anglers and nature lovers alike.

272 pages, Hardcover

First published October 27, 2015

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About the author

James McClintock

7 books12 followers
James B. McClintock is one of the world’s foremost experts on Antarctica, and currently the Antarctic Marine Biologist Professor of Polar and Marine Biology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. McClintock has appeared on local, national, and international public radio, CNN news, and the Weather Channel. He has been quoted in National Geographic Magazine, Discover Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Wall Street Journal, and others. McClintock Point, a piece of land on the north side of the entrance of Explorer’s Cove on the Scott Coast of the Ross Sea, Antarctica, was named in honor of his research.

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5 stars
16 (31%)
4 stars
19 (37%)
3 stars
14 (27%)
2 stars
2 (3%)
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Displaying 1 - 10 of 10 reviews
Profile Image for Randal White.
780 reviews70 followers
September 12, 2015
Tons Of Information Not just your typical read of fishing yarns, this book is loaded with ecological and conservation information. Covers fisheries from anchovies in France to tooth fish in Antartica. Only reason that I don't rate it higher than three stars is that it tends to bog down a bit with too much information.
Profile Image for Jason.
171 reviews1 follower
August 24, 2015
A Naturalist Goes Fishing is an entertaining, fun and informative way to bring to life the state of aquatic life in nine different inland and coastal regions around the world. This book is far more than a retelling of fishing tales from around the world, though these stories are certainly well told. And it is far more than an investigation into the ecology of aquatic life. McClintock aims to educate and show how many different elements have come together to create the present health of these environments.

A noted professor of biology and ecology at the University of Alabama Birmingham, McClintock teaches and is a scholar out of love for the aquatic environment and the various fish species that it supports. This work takes the reader on nine fishing trips around the world, from his native rivers and lakes of Alabama to as far away as New Zealand and Antartica (where McClintock has done much scholarly work before). The story telling should be compelling even for non outdoorsman and fisherman. It is more than a simple retelling of what lures and bait and lines were used to catch what types of fish. He places the fish, and the human activity around them, in their natural context and shows how pressures on their environment, from pollution and development to overfishing, are causing great stress on the natural world.

While compelling, his overall point should compel the reader to want to preserve and protect these habitats, and at minimum, respect them and the amazing fish that live and should thrive within them. The reader can come away with a much greater enthusiasm for creation and its variety, from the comfort of their armchairs, by just knowing that these amazing places exist and thrive in the midst of so many challenges.

McClintock leads an adventuresome life as a scholar and enthusiast for the great outdoors. He wants the reader to come along and experience this too, and see that it continues to thrive for years to come. You can come away from this book wishing that he was the professor you could have had. It is a real privilege to come along with him in this work, as he takes you around the world and really teaches you with his enthusiasm. His last chapter, the tenth, shows real challenges and real, achievable solutions for the habitat of so many aquatic environments.
Profile Image for Maria Beltrami.
Author 12 books55 followers
March 8, 2016
Anchored as they are to the reality, and used to watch it closely without prejudices, naturalists are usually good writers. McClintock is no exception and offers to us, who are fisherman when the fish is in the pot, a fascinating chronicle of his activities as game fisherman, written in a style that has nothing to envy to the wonderful Three Men in a Boat. Obviously fishing activity provides the opportunity for the description of the characteristics of the fish species and their habitat, the problems arising from the change in the ecosystem and of the future prospects of an activity so important for the environment and human feeding .
I thank St. Martin's Press and Netgalley for giving me a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

Ancorati come sono alla realtà delle cose, e abituati ad osservarla da vicino senza pregiudizi, i naturalisti sono solitamente ottimi scrittori. McClintock non fa eccezione e offre a noi, che siamo pescatori solo quando il pesce è nel piatto, un'affascinante cronaca della sua attività di pescatore sportivo, scritta con uno stile che non ha nulla da invidiare al meraviglioso Tre uomini in barca. Ovviamente l'attività di pesca fornisce lo spunto per la descrizione delle caratteristiche delle specie ittiche e del loro habitat, dei problemi derivanti dalla variazione dell'ecosistema e delle prospettive nel futuro di un'attività così determinante per l'ambiente e per l'alimentazione.
Ringrazio St. Martin's Press e Netgalley per avermi fornito una copia gratuita in cambio di una recensione onesta.

Profile Image for J.S..
Author 1 book51 followers
February 1, 2016
James McClintock shares his experiences fishing around the world, from Alabama's rivers and Gulf Coast to New Zealand to Antarctica to France - and lots of places in between. But as a naturalist, he includes lots of information about the threats the fish and fisheries face - such as overfishing and habitat loss, or the uncertainties of climate change. In the final chapter he discusses some of the conservation efforts and sounds an optimistic note.

Those who love to fish will especially enjoy this book. Other than a couple of day trips on fishing boats bristling with fishing poles for rockfish of the coast of Southern California, I haven't fished much since I was a kid and went with my grandpa to catch rainbow trout in eastern Utah. I would have liked to learn more of the natural ecology of the fish and locations - there was a fair amount, but I'd have liked more. Still, I have to admit it was an interesting read, and reminded me of how much fun I had as a kid. Maybe I'll dig one of the poles out of the garage and try it again sometime. (I received an advance copy from Amazon Vine.)
Profile Image for Melinda Thompson.
Author 6 books11 followers
February 17, 2016
I liked this author's first book, Lost Antarctica, so much, I saved the new release for a long weekend and planned to savor every word. James McClintock crafts beautiful prose. You don't have to love fishing to read A Naturalist Goes Fishing. You don't have to be a scientist, a conservationist, or an explorer to appreciate it. You can enjoy McClintock's adventures and observations from the living room sofa like I did last weekend. It was time well spent. This book holds together so well--from fish to location to story. It flows like fresh water, moves effortlessly toward important observations about our natural world and what's happening out there, but it does so gently, kindly, and inclusively. The author isn't preachy. This is not a strident voice crying for attention. If you love keen observations, finely detailed description, well-educated, experienced perspectives on global topics--or you just want a few hours of beautifully written escapism--this book is a great choice.
Profile Image for Rustin.
118 reviews
February 7, 2016
Disclaimer for this review: I've never caught a fish in my life and have not enjoyed trying, so my rating is probably lower than many others who read (or should read) the book.

This book is the beige wall of literature. It was not engaging or repellent. James McClintock takes you around the world on his fishing adventures with a new fish and location for every chapter except the last. Along with his fishing stories, he explains the dangers that the fish and fishing industry face. The last chapter focuses on possible solutions to dwindling fish populations.

While I'm concerned with the environment and enjoy the outdoors, I didn't find the book gripping. I might have if I enjoyed the sport of fishing.
82 reviews
March 26, 2019
Great for sleep aid

Wow, what a disappointment! I got this book because “Lost Antarctica”, by the same author, was magnificent. This one made me wonder if both books had been written by the same person.

I met the author and we talked briefly. He’s very intelligent and has a way with words in person. But this book, sorry to say, doesn’t reflect that.
1 review1 follower
October 20, 2016
The book is exciting and thrilling continually keeping the reader engaged. If you like books with many different stories in them this the book for you. The book concentrates on having fun in the outdoors while still having a sustainable resource to use for generations to come
Profile Image for Adam Goff.
39 reviews
October 23, 2022
Interesting book that talks about fishing in different parts of the world and the fish that inhabit those regions. Must read for anyone interested in fishing around the world.
Profile Image for Doug.
252 reviews
January 18, 2016
Good discussion of sustainable fisheries (and the things that threaten them), why certain fish stocks collapse, and a semi-sentimental memoir of students, teaching, marine biology, and exotic places. A pleasure to read.
Displaying 1 - 10 of 10 reviews

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