SANDPOINT — Serious birdwatchers are well known for compiling “life lists” of species they have sighted in pursuit of their sport. Why wouldn’t a globe-trotting fisherman do the same — with a few fish tales thrown in, for good measure?
Sandpoint angler and career fish biologist Al Van Vooren reflects on 70 years of fishing with friends and family - and along the way describes his adventures catching more than 140 different species of fish — in his new memoir “Fish of a Lifetime.”
The 256-page paperback includes vignettes, short stories, and photos, allowing the reader to follow along on Van Vooren’s many journeys. From the creeks, muddy rivers, and lakes of the Midwest, to the trout streams, whitewater rivers, and mountain lakes of the far West; from the blue waters of Hawaii and Costa Rica to the brackish waters of the Everglades; and from the Alaskan tundra to the Amazon jungle, anglers will find familiar experiences they can relate to, as well as new experiences that may appeal to their sense of adventures.
In fact, that’s the message that Van Vooren aims to achieve with his reading audience. “My hope for those that do read it is that they might find it fun or interesting, or that it stirs and brings to mind their own wonderful memories made in the pursuit of fish.”
As a biologist, it was in Van Vooren’s nature to phylogenetically categorize the stories, beginning with the most primitive and moving through the most “advanced” species into four parts — hence, chapters include Temperate Freshwater Fishes, Temperate Saltwater Fishes, Tropical Fresh/Brackish-Water Fishes, and Tropical Saltwater Fishes.
“Fish of a Lifetime” has captured the attention and praise of regional author Paul Quinnett, Ph. D., who wrote a pair of regionally best-selling books exploring the psychology of fishing, “Pavlov’s Trout” and “Darwin’s Bass.”
“If you ever wanted to sit around a campfire … and listen to a fish biologist tell fish stories, this is a book you have to have,” Quinnett said. “He will fill up your heart with tales of family, friends, and good times gleaned from a lifetime of adventures traveling all over the planet to catch just one more.”
Van Vooren enjoyed a 38-year career researching and managing fish populations in Ohio, Iowa, and Idaho, and has written technical and popular articles on fish and fishing, including a regular fishing column in the bi-monthly Idaho Wildlife magazine. He lives on Lake Pend Oreille with his wife and fishing partner Susan.
Van Vooren published his memoir in association with Keokee Books in Sandpoint. Copies of ‘Fish of a Lifetime’ are $13.95, and available at Sandpoint-area bookstores or online at KeokeeBooks.com and Amazon.com.