River's Edge; A Fly Fishing Realm is a remarkable journey throughout the streams and rivers where North Western New York State mixes company with the beautiful wildness of Pennsylvania. Each chapter has the reader walking along the trail-side with Walt on one of his "home" streams in this seemingly timeless region. The author writes with ease and recounts his experiences on these waters while offering insight into some practical items such as access areas, species, ideal rods for specific streams, etc. Nary a Sunday morning went by for me in this last month or two where my coffee wasn't accompanied by a chapter or two.
Walt takes us for a ramble along the Kinderhook, where he got his start as a kid "on the fly". Dropped off by his parents at the ripe old age of twelve, Walt seems to have connected to the solitude immediately. Upon his return years and years later, the memories flood the fisherman as well as having the present moment take him directly back in time. With each passing chapter, the author connects us to his life's fishing journey utilizing history; not only his own but of the streams and rivers he meanders on. Tales of townships, watering holes, citizens, etc. keep us company while we wade through the pages. The solitude that the reader finds in the author's words are never an image of loneliness. Yes, there are a couple of tales of days spent with fishing partners but mostly Walt is on his own in nature. It is no wonder that we sense from him an expertise on birds, flora, vegetation, critters, and what have you. It is inspiring to read of the knowledge that Walt has, not only of fishing, but of all that he is surrounded by. In his humble exploration, the reader never feels that the writer is doing anything but sharing in a selfless way. I've read some of the "experts" and they certainly want you to know it. Walt attempts no part of that but instills in the reader a curiosity for things unknown in the wild.
What must be mentioned regarding River's Edge is it's connection to conservation. The author, again without presumption, not only knows the waters he fishes like the back of his hand but contributes much to the lifeblood of these streams. Whether a trail-side communication to an unethical fisherman or a full blown stream restoration effort through different communities, Walt has either had a hand in these or at least knows and appreciates the trials and tribulations these rivers and their inhabitants have survived through. Clearly a passion of the writer's that connects him to the species he fishes for, conservation ties the entire existence of fisherman to fish, to surroundings, to nature at large. This, the reader takes away and hopefully carries to his or her own home streams.
My thought before writing this "review" was to explore a few of my favorite chapters for you out there in cyberspace but instead I invite you to find yours. There are bound to be a few, this much I can promise. As I mentioned, Walt Franklin is a damn good writer, and this book reflects this undeniable fact from the riffles to the pools of his favorite trout streams and back out into the wild surroundings that all of us treasure.