[Following is another guest blog by the author of the Introduction to The Last Resort, David Hoefer. I invite other readers to share their thoughts about The Last Resort for future blog posts. You can contact me here.]
When I first began to fish a few years ago, I was surprised at how formulaic it was. I don’t mean that fishing isn’t challenging and fun—it can be plenty of both, though not always at the same time—but that the equipment and techniques involved seemed highly codified and very attuned to time and place. A good angler uses certain rods, reels, baits, and casts to catch particular fish in particular circumstances.
That’s why I was surprised again when I read John Goodlett’s journal only to find that he and the boys of The Last Resort didn’t give two hoots and a holler about the sacred categories of fishing. For one thing, despite mostly targeting smallmouth bass, Pud’s tackle seems to change constantly, possibly based on what was available in local shops. For another, he mixes casting and fly-rodding setups, which, to hear some tell it, approaches the status of a cardinal sin. Apparently during the mid-1940s procedural integrity was less of a concern; one used what worked, as worked out by experiment.
All of which leads to an interesting question: what changed? Has our collective knowledge of the sporting environment risen so dramatically that we can support a highly specialized economy of fishing products and brands? Or are all the exacting methods, tackle, and accessories merely a capitalist ploy to relieve our wallets and purses of excess weight? I suspect that a truthful explanation includes a little of both, and probably some other besides.