Rust Belt Arcana

Hey folks, Oregon Fly Fishing Blog’s Matt Stansberry has a new book out, Rust Belt Arcana about wildlife of the industrial Upper Midwest. The book just topped The Nature Conservancy’s list of favorite books of 2018.

Stansberry brings a curiosity for the world around him, whether he’s catching fireflies with his kids, contemplating a museum fossil or searching for injured birds around city skyscrapers. He eschews the easy answers here, and each short essay relies not only on his field observations but also interviews with scientists and insights from tarot readings.

It shows that even common nature – the opossum under the crawl space, the bluegills in the pond – have unique stories and lessons to share, if only we pay attention. A gem of a book.

Here’s an excerpt of the book, a chapter about steelhead fishing in the Lake Erie tributaries.


I hold a ten-foot graphite wand in my right hand, and I begin a motion overhead, creating lemniscate loops, expertly casting lines and offerings over the riffled surface of the water.

To the uninitiated, my actions seem strange and arbitrary. But every choice, every movement, is based on years of practice, instinct, and ritual.

I am looking for a connection, an acknowledgement or response from nature. I am imposing meaning and causality on a random world. I am deciphering the hidden relationships between rainfall, the current’s swirl over a boulder, the amount of sediment in the water, and the likely behaviors of animals unseen.

I’ve been a fly fisherman almost my entire life, which is to say a liar. The lie is an act of creation. A deception creates an opening, a crack between worlds—prying a space between what is perceived and accepted, and what might be imagined and possible.

In the tarot tradition, the Magician blurs the line between hero and con man. Every serious angler I know falls somewhere on that continuum.

You can pick up a copy here. And help Matt out with a review on Amazon or Goodreads.

This entry was posted in Fly Fishing Books. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *