Lost in the Driftless: Trout Fishing on the Cultural Divide (Paperback)
The Driftless Area in rural southwestern Wisconsin has some of the most productive spring creeks in the world. Brown trout numbers can reach 5000 catchable fish per mile in creeks only 10 meters wide. The author goes fishing with a local self-described "trout regs protester", to look at the social and biological impacts of special regulations designed to promote and protect this fishery as a destination for out of state traveling fly fishers and local anglers alike. The former have flocked to this region over the years, the later have dropped out in high numbers. The author investigates why. What he finds is not only the classic and well-mapped divides between rural and urban, worm and fly anglers, and not only differences in values, but cultural divergence, rifts between groups according to set beliefs, habits, economic well-being, customs, language, and the meanings and purposes of fishing. These cultural norms are wired in and that can't be easily overcome. From the spring creeks of the Driftless, to the high-rise offices of the Wisconsin DNR in downtown Madison, to the dinner and diner tables of small town anglers, Traver explores the social landscapes of various trout fishing cultures in America today. What he finds is that in spite of the different "languages" at play on the stream, more connects than separates. Buried at the center of every regulatory dispute and every difference in perception of trout fishing and values is an unerring need to connect to the natural world.
Lost in the Driftless, like Traver's acclaimed memoir Sippewissett: Or, Life on a Salt Marsh, smoothly blends narrative and science, providing a personal reflection on home, family, and fishing, alongside an investigative look into the science and business of one of America's most storied hobbies.