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Twilight of the Big Game?

September 14, 2011

David Frey photo.

Author Fred Waitzkin says as a boy learning the ropes of big game fishing, he was “fired up by the Odyssean blue-water conquests of Ernest Hemingway.”

Waitzkin writes a loving portrait of big-game fishing, with overtones of the demise of big-game fish, on

“Hemingway inspired me to learn how to read the ocean for color changes, weed lines, and feeding birds—the detective work of big-game fishing,” he writes. “I wanted to be like him in all respects. I wanted to write great books and battle 800-pounders and bring them back to the dock for enduring glory.”

But trouble lurks in the waters Hemingway once trolled. The big fish Hemingway used to catch off the coast of Bimini are mostly gone now, their numbers depleted by commercial fishing vessels.

“Big-game fishing in its twilight is far-fetched and sometimes inescapably sad,” writes Waitzkin, most famously the author of Searching for Bobby Fischer. “But it is also beautiful and oddly enduring, in the manner of all dreams and myths.”