Pmike--Thanks for the kind and gracious words. I did unquestionably have a wonderful boyhood, and realization of just how much that was the case grows with each passing year. If I am able to convey some small portion of the joy of those years through the printed word, that's a matter of quiet satisfaction.
As for my next book, there actually has already been one, although it has nothing to do with fly fishing. It is Classic O'Connor,
an anthology containing several dozen of Jack O'Connor's grand tales which I selected, introduced, etc. I have another book in press (University of S. C. Press) of a somewhat similar nature. It is a collection of Archibald Rutledge's Christmas stories and is scheduled to be out in early November. Another book, one which won't make me a penny but which was something that needed to be done, is a detailed bibliography of books on turkey hunting along with commentary on collecting these books. I'll do it in a limited edition.
All that being duly noted, I do have two Smokies-connected books I still want to write. One is a biography of Horace Kephart. I've studied and written about him for decades, and he desperately needs a fair, fact-based biography which will help dispel the many myths which have currency to day about the man and his milieu. The second is a book on speckled trout--a mixture of history, their lure and lore, how to fish for them, and where to fish for them. It would be a short book with somewhat limited appeal, but it's one I'd like to do. There are a couple of books in this general field out there. Ian Rutter has a dandy little guidebook on the subject focusing specifically on the Smokies and several years ago Nick Karas wrote a detailed general account entitled, if memory serves, Brook Trout.
I'm more interested in specks as they were in yesteryear, the sad route the species traveled as logging began in earnest, their tenacious clinging to survival, the restoration efforts, the discoveries of a distinct southern Appalachian strain, and most of all, the manner in which they continue to hold the imagination of so many anglers in thrall.
The biggest decision connected with that book will focus on the issue of geography--how much to reveal about speckled trout destinations. I'm inclined to "tell it all," knowing that distance and difficult of access protect most thriving speck populations, but I have some reservations. For example, I look at what upper Big Snowbird is today as opposed to what it was twenty years ago and I'm troubled. The Cherohala Highway and easier access made some difference, as did revelations from writers (I'm one of the guilty parties). My Graham County sources tell me there are now otters above Mouse Knob Falls, and that's a factor too. Combine these things and recently two guys who really know how to fish made a trip there and reported--"We could scarcely catch enough fish to fry a mess." Contrast that with typical days of 40 to 60 fish two decades ago and it's a bleak picture.
Obviously I'll have to make the decision of whether to follow a "don't ask, don't tell" policy or a quite different one, but I would welcome forum input on the matter. The whole issue is a contentious one and I must be honest in saying that I'm of two opinions about it although as I age I'm far more inclined to reveal "secrets" than I once was.
The questions then are: Was I once selfish? Does realization that I've had my days in the sun on remote streams make a difference? Should special places be a situation where you earn what you learn?
Input welcome, and I see I've been quite long winded. Your post raised a whole bunch of thoughts.