- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 20, 2008

Celebrating Lefty Kreh,” by Flip Pallot ($60, Collectors Covey), for beginning a wonderful journey through the life of the fly-fishing world’s top ambassador, Lefty Kreh, by saying Lefty’s hometown, Frederick, was located in southeastern Gaithersburg. Kreh pitched and hit with his left when he played softball; the same was true when he would pass or shoot during basketball games.

After that tiny misstep, Pallot did a masterful job chronicling the life of a man who arguably is the finest fly fisherman in the world. From Lefty’s days in World War II to wonderful seasons spent wading his beloved Potomac and Fort Detrick, working with anthrax and other dangerous chemicals.

Happily, he choose an outdoors writing and photography career, forever teaching young and old alike the joys of fly-fishing. I do believe he gave up on me, however, when - after a day of fly-fishing for bass on the Susquehanna River - he said, “Boy, you’re the worst fly caster I’ve ever seen, but somehow you get the line out there. Guess it’ll have to do.”

The many color plates alone are worth the price of the book and Pallot’s text is thoughtful, alive, interesting and a well-deserved salute to one of the great names in sport fishing.

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I can’t recall when I last had such reading fun as with “MaryJane’s Outpost - Unleashing Your Inner Wild,” by Idaho, and has launched a nationwide line of organic foods (maryjanesfarm.org).

Hers is a wonderful kaleidoscope of life in the outdoors and making a living with natural things exciting and rewarding. This lady who raises bees, cows and chickens illustrates and writes about building your own willow table, a canopy for an outdoor bed, an outpost bathtub, how to make liquid soap from castaway pieces of hand soap by adding water and putting the whole deal into a blender.

Butters talks about flowers, camping, fishing, hunting, creating whistles from blades of grass, collecting natural foods and she provides recipes from shortcake made with wild berries to rabbit pot pies.

One thing puzzled me, however. It was a long shopping list of things needed when living in wild country. But where in the world do you find a grain called quinoa, champagne yeast, asiago cheese or cheese made with Spanish sheep’s milk?

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Did you know the preferred water temperature of a largemouth bass hovers between 80 and 90 degrees? I would have said such temperatures are acceptable, but preferred? No way. All the same, in “Knowing Bass - the Scientific Approach to Catching More Fish” ($26.95, Lyons Press) by Keith A Jones, Ph.D., a number of surprising facts come to light.

Until I read Jones’ book I knew that a water pH factor of 7.0 is considered neutral; I also knew that bass like the water’s pH to run from 7.4 to 8.1, but Jones says pH readings can’t be used as an arithmetic measure. Each pH unit equates to a tenfold increase or decrease in basicity or acidity. If the pH drops from 6.0 to 5.0, the acidity increases by a factor of 10. In a separate chapter concerning the olfactory senses of bass, Jones says bass are meat eaters. So forget the plastic worms of the 1970s when berry-flavored baits were all the rage. But when he said fish attractants containing anise (licorice) oil meant nothing to bass, ditto for garlic or salt, I was flabbergasted. That’ll start a rhubarb among bass hounds because salt- and garlic-treated plastic baits are very popular.

Jones is the director of fish research at the America’s top game fish, the largemouth bass.

  • Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column Sunday and Wednesday on his Fishing Report every Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: gmueller@washingtontimes.com