Song of the Reel

George Frederick Clarke

Second Edition

Edited by Mary Bernard

“It is not all of fishing to fish.” – Izaak Walton, The Compleat Angler

George Frederick Clarke had an unwavering and well-practiced philosophy of fishing. He never tired of repeating Izaak Walton’s famous saying and he delighted in spelling out exactly what it means.

He begins the story in his previous book, Six Salmon Rivers, and brings it to full expression in Song of the Reel. The pinnacle of feeling to which this book rises as it surrounds fishing with the beauty of New Brunswick’s rivers and the deep forest landscape, as well as the pleasures of companionship and great story telling, leave no doubt that fishing is about much more than catching fish. You don’t have to be a fisherman to enjoy these books.

With stories of river adventures, wilderness solace, the camaraderie of camping, as well as fishing, Dr. Clarke spins together the lines of description and feeling that puts the “much more” in the picture. He plays out his memories of a long life in the Saint John River(Wolastoq) Valley in a way that is a salute to the land and people he loved so well. He offers firm evidence of what it means to have a grateful heart and satisfied mind. We can imagine he would say with Thoreau, “I dream of no heaven but that which lies about me.”

With Six Salmon Rivers and Song of the Reel, Dr. Clarke has given us two of the finest renditions of what it means to say, “It is not all of fishing to fish.”

From the Afterword by Keith Helmuth

By the time George Frederick Clarke composed Song of the Reel, he had an unwavering and well-practiced philosophy of life, a store of memories to match, and twelve published books to his credit. He was in his eighth decade and Song of the Reel might well have been his last salute to the land and people he loved so well. The pinnacle of feeling to which this book rises, and the grace with which the writing visits and revisits its inexhaustible theme, provides everything one needs to understand the philosophy of life that George Frederick Clarke enthusiastically held and faithfully practiced.

About the Author

George Frederick Clarke (1883-1974) is one of New Brunswick’s best writers. He is the author of thirteen books, including Six Salmon Rivers and Someone Before Us. His short stories have recently been collected in The Ghost of Nackawick Portage.

About the Editor

Mary Bernard is editor of the George Frederick Project, which is bringing his books back into print. She is Clarke’s granddaughter and lives in Cambridge, England.

George Frederick Clarke with a 29.5lb salmon, Restigouche, 1930s

Paperback • 280 pages • $28(CAD), $23(USD) • ISBN 978-1-988299-03-7 • Published 2016/09/25