The Gifted Fisherman

new Dave Carlson book takes angle on angling

Scott Morfitt, photos by Andrea Paulseth

FISHFUL THINKING. Dave Carlson (shown here fly fishing at Eau Claire’s Riverview Park with his dog Ellie) published his latest book, A Fish Gift, in April.
FISHFUL THINKING. Dave Carlson (shown here fly fishing at Eau Claire’s Riverview Park
with his dog Ellie) published his latest book, A Fish Gift, in April.

For many of us in the Chippewa Valley, the great outdoors are synonymous with sport – whether that’s defined as hunting, fishing, biking or even snapping photos. It is this strong connection with the land that makes us realize just how special a place we live in.

Dave Carlson, host of the syndicated TV show Northland Adventures, has been chronicling this love of the land and the many ways people commune with nature not just here in the Chippewa Valley but throughout the Midwest and the Great Plains. Carlson’s approach to sharing his love of the outdoors seems to align with Aldo Leopold’s; he routinely speaks of the land in such a way that not only works for his show but also feels like it could be read aloud in a dimly lit coffee shop.

Carlson tells a tale about intense introspection in the golden years of one man’s life. It is also steeped in
the trappings of outdoor life.

In A Fish Gift, published in April of this year, Carlson showcases these talents and tells a tale about intense introspection in the golden years of one man’s life. It is also steeped in the trappings of outdoor life.  This makes it delightful for any outdoor enthusiast. However, Carlson says that his work is not only intended for people who spend every day in nature.

“The entire book, especially ‘A Fish Gift,’ is not intended to be a ‘how to’ or ‘where to’ guide.” Carlson says, “People with any outdoor experiences and novices… I believe both can relate to the characters’ actions and passions. Details in the fishing scenes enable anyone to grasp how deeply people get involved in this outdoor world.”

People taking even a casual glance at almost any page in the book will notice that the names of the characters and oftentimes their pets seem to leap off the page.  Names like Gwynna are not only fun to sound out but also look really pretty when you see them in print. “Our family loves animals and we’re almost exclusively dog owners (a few aquarium fish and cats along the way).” Carlson says, “The kids have named the dogs, and some of our dog names are in the book. As for people, they are  names of actual persons I’ve met over some 40-plus years in newspaper and TV journalism.”

In any interview with an outdoor guru like Carlson, one can’t resist asking them about some great nature spots to check out in the area. For this article, I was no exception to this rule and had to know what area of the Chippewa Valley he finds really special.

“Go to the rivers, the Chippewa and the Eau Claire.” Carlson says, “They are this community’s brightest treasure. That wasn’t the case when I came to the city in the late-1960s. Clean water and other state and federal pollution laws have restored the rivers’ health, and with that, ours! You can fish, swim, bicycle, hike, or just sit next to them. They’re priceless!”

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