Longtime fly fisherman Quinn Grover had contemplated the “why” of his fishing identity before more recently becoming focused on the “how” of it. He realized he was a dedicated fly fisherman in large part because public lands and public waterways in the West made it possible. In Wilderness of Hope Grover recounts his fly-fishing experiences with a strong evocation of place, connecting those experiences to the ongoing national debate over public lands.
Because so much of America’s public lands are in the Intermountain West, this is where arguments about the use and limits of those lands rage the loudest. And those loudest in the debate often become caricatures: rural ranchers who hate the government; West Coast elites who don’t know the West outside Vail, Colorado; and energy and mining companies who extract from once-protected areas. These caricatures obscure the complexity of those who use public lands and what those lands mean to a wider population.
Although for Grover fishing is often an “escape” back to wildness, it is also a way to find a home in nature and recalibrate his interactions with other parts of his life as a father, son, husband, and citizen. Grover sees fly fishing on public waterways as a vehicle for interacting with nature that allows humans to inhabit nature rather than destroy or “preserve” it by keeping it entirely separate from human contact. These essays reflect on personal fishing experiences with a strong evocation of place and an attempt to understand humans’ relationship with water and public land in the American West.
Prologue: First Fish
Part 1: Reassurance
Kissing, Telling, and Invisible Trout
The Case for Inefficiency
Part 2: Reflection
The Bank Grass
Conversations with Grandpa
First Good Fish
A One-Sided Conversation with a Brown Trout
The Big V
Part 3: Renewal
The Stump Ranch Fish
Wind, Rain, and Snow
Five Days in the Wilderness
Epilogue: The Shallow End of a Nameless Lake
“Wilderness of Hope joins a long tradition of books—including The River Why and A River Runs through It—which remind us all that, of the many possible paths toward understanding the universe, few are as reliable as fly fishing. Quinn Grover makes a strong case for passion as the key ingredient of a meaningful life, but also for knowing how the planet might make best use of us.”—Brooke Williams, author of Open Midnight: Where Ancestors and Wilderness Meet
“Quinn Grover’s Wilderness of Hope provides a life compass for those of us who pursue wild and native trout on our public lands and waters. He preserves our capacity for wonder by weaving together the fabric of family and fishing friends, wilderness, and the importance of preserving and protecting our public lands and resources for future generations.”—Craig Mathews, author of The Yellowstone Fly-Fishing Guide
“On his first trip out, Quinn Grover lands a whopper! There’s a casting and reeling rhythm to his writing, long luxurious passages on nature’s elusive tributaries, then—zing!—thrilling bites of witty insight spilling into pools of reflection. He seems to have spawned a new genre, the Ichthysroman. In Grover’s own words, he’s a ‘middle-class man’ in love with places ‘worth knowing.’ I say he’s the high-class author of a book worth keeping. I’m hooked!”—Matthew James Babcock, author of Heterodoxologies
Matthew James Babcock
“With meditations born from experience, Grover conveys the mystery and pull of the trout rivers that run through the American West. These essays make one want to pick up a fly rod, wade into the nearest swift water, and revel Thoreau- or Dillard-like in the wild atmospheres found there.”—Braden Hepner, author of Pale Harvest