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Sunday, December 22, 2013

May the Rivers Never Sleep by Bill and John McMillan

By now, many of you may be aware that Bill and John McMillan released their book May the Rivers Never Sleep last year.  This book is a wonderful work by the joint efforts of father and son.  This book is rooted in the inspiration and influence of Roderick Haig-Brown and follows the concept of The Rivers Never Sleep which describes rivers as calendars of the changing seasons through time.

I was so blessed to be able to receive a signed copy directly from Bill last year.  I was amazed by the beautiful photos by Bill and John, including John's incredibe underwater photos.  Bill and John alternate with the writing of the chapters discussing each month of the year.  As I read through the book,  I could not help but feel so much gratitude for the love and dedication to rivers and steelhead that Bill has embodied and passed down to John from youth.  Haig-Brown's influence on Bill and John has been profound, just as Bill's and John's influences on me form the foundation of my values and ethics as a steelhead fly fisherman.

Bill talks about how he and John took up snorkeling rivers just as Haig-Brown did, and this opened up a whole new world of discovery and understanding of rivers and fish.  It is true that as anglers, we are limited to the single dimension of looking at rivers and fish from above the surface and focused on the single minded pursuit of hooking a steelhead.  May the Rivers Never Sleep helps give the rest of us a glimpse into a deeper understanding of rivers and steelhead.

Bill and John discuss how over time, run timings on our rivers have changed due to years of hatchery management, habitat degradation, and over harvest.  Recent discoveries about anadromy of rainbow trout/steelhead is also discussed and how a "resident" rainbow can become anadromous and a steelhead can become a resident trout, depending on conditions.  I find myself going back to this book as each month goes by and rereading the chapter corresponding with the current month.

Despite the ravages mankind has brought upon our rivers and steelhead, this book is ultimately about hope for the future.  Dams have been coming down as John discusses about his home river the Elwah, and hatchery practices are slowly changing and management for wild steelhead becoming more frequent, thanks in no small degree to the tireless conservation work and scientific study of Bill and John.

Copies of May the Rivers Never Sleep can be purchased through the Wild Fish Conservancy store Duvall, WA:  http://wildfishconservancy.org/support-wfc/personal-shopping.  Purchasing the book through the WFC will allow extra funds to go towards wild fish conservation.

Wishing all a Merry Christmas and may Jesus Christ reign as the supreme reason for the season!

Todd








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