It's a good thing Russ Hopper broke a leg in three places while fishing two years ago. Because while Hopper sat around for 10 weeks waiting for the broken bone to mend, he hatched the idea for his new book, "Angler Profiles."
Before you say "not another fishing book" and start scanning the nearby ads (you can't fool me), hold on. Hopper's book is not another fishing book, at least not in the traditional sense.
While he was recuperating, the Kentuckian read all his old outdoors magazines and began wondering what it would be like to swap stories and tips over dinner with some fishing legends.
He wrote to 2,000 fly fishermen.
What 275 of them wrote back fills his book, subtitled, "A Collection of Some Legendary Anglers' Favorite Flies, Foods, Rods and Waters."
Five Maryland anglers are included: C. D. Clarke of Upper Fairmont, D. L. Goddard of Easton, Lefty Kreh of Hunt Valley, Ann McIntosh of Monkton and C. Boyd Pfeiffer of Phoenix.
The book also contains favorite recipes and fish tales from Bob Clouser, Jimmy Carter, Mark Sosin, George Bush and Cathy Beck.
"It took 20 months to track them all down" says Hopper, a certified public accountant and health-care consultant. "For some, I had to recast."
Two things surprised Hopper.
"At the front end, I feared they would be legendary, untouchable. I didn't think they would do it. But I found they were human, and that was a neat thing. I was surprised, too, by the depth of some of the recipes."
Indeed. There's a beautiful halibut stew, a from-scratch white clam sauce, a grouse chowder, and a conch fritter recipe I'd love to try if I only had a conch.
Of course, there are some doozies: two Tater Tot casserole recipes and something called "fish on a stick" that involves eating raw fish innards.
And there are funny ones: potato chips and beer, a hot fudge sundae from Dairy Queen, and "Gourmet Dinty Moore."
Tom Rosenbauer, an Orvis manager who fishes Vermont's famous Battenkill River at lunchtime, offers up "brook trout and chanterelles," which requires four brookies and two dozen wild mushrooms. Showing a little catch-and-release religion, Rosenbauer notes that a chef/angler who kills more than four fish should substitute amanita mushrooms for the chanterelles. The amanitas are poisonous.
The anglers also spill the beans about their favorite stream, rod, and flies.
Peter Fromm, contributing editor of Gray's Sporting Journal, fishes with rods rescued from river bottoms and flies plucked from river brush.
Leigh Perkins, the chairman of Orvis who has been fishing for 62 years, says his favorite river is the one he's on and his favorite fly is whatever is working.
This book is like a good dinner conversation. Listen in on the chitchat to your left, drift in to the talk on your right.
As Hopper writes in his introduction: "Tonight there will be no pretense. No need to preach or dictate what is or is not a healthy meal. Forget about dieting and such nonsense. Some moments were made for indulgence."
Hopper says that with 270 recipes, he doubts he'll ever get through sampling them all. Although he admits no favorites, he favors the wild game dishes and desserts.
One entry stands out, that of Carl Hanson, who fished Florida's waters for 75 years and taught 50,000 people fly-tying and casting at his free clinics. He died at 84 before seeing his recipe for life in print:
"Hurt as few people as possible. Help anybody. Enjoy life. Love people."
Hopper's book costs $24.95 and is available from its publisher, The Hope Group, P.O. Box 62, Bowling Green, Ky. 42102.
Ask about Everest
Did you ever wonder how climbers answer nature's call at 25,000 feet while clinging to the side of an ice-covered mountain?
Or what 100 mph winds sound and feel like in a nylon tent?
Or what it feels like to stand alone on a summit with the rest of the world at your feet?
Chris Warner, owner of Earth Treks Climbing Center in Columbia, is just back from his attempted ascent of 29,035-foot Mount Everest. His journal of three months in the Himalayas was featured on The Sun's Web site.
The veteran mountaineer will take questions during a 30-minute on-line chat at noon Tuesday about his harrowing days on Everest as high winds and avalanches nearly swept him from the slopes.
You can submit a question beforehand by logging onto the site and filling out the form. The address is: www.sunspot.net/sports/outdoors/everest.
Seventy-eight boats entered the 20th Ocean City Shark Tournament last weekend, but rough seas kept many in on Saturday.
James Stryholuk of Wilmington, Del., won the Mako Division with a 230-pound fish while fishing from the "Hooked-Up." Reeling his winner in took 45 minutes.
Don Kuechle of Germantown, fishing aboard "Reel Lucky," won the Open Division with a 242-pound, 128-inch blue shark.
Mario Rebelo of Centerville, Va., took the Bluefish Division with a 14.2-pound, 37-inch fish caught from his boat, Pioneer II. Rodney Arbogast of Federalsburg, won the Flounder Division with a 5.2-pound, 23-inch fish caught behind the Ocean City Airport.
The only tuna caught during the three-day event, a 47-pound yellowfin taken by Robert Miller of Hagerstown, won the Tuna Division.
The "Wizzy" crew won the Released Division, having freed nine makos and two blue sharks.
Speaking of release, of the 298 sharks caught during the tournament, 90 percent were released. Some anglers kept their fish, and others donated 1,554 pounds of fish to the local food bank.
To read an expanded Outdoors Journal or the fishing report online, go to www.sunspot.net/sports/outdoors.
To hear the fishing report, call SunDial and enter category 5378 on your touch-tone phone. The phone number is 410-783-1800 in the Baltimore area; 410-268-7736 in Anne Arundel County; 410-836-5028 in Harford County; and 410-848-0038 in Carroll County.