COOLCRAZYBEAUTIFUL: American Big Game Fishing, 1935

A Pick of the Week from Special Collections of the UM Libraries

By Steve Hersh

American Big Game Fishing (1935) is a must-see for all fishing enthusiasts who want to learn more about the different kinds of fish that exist all over the United States and what methods, environments, and seasons are the most viable for a great catch. It likens fishing to an art form and describes it with open reverence, in which “no other sport offers such a panorama of beauty, never twice alike.”

Ernest Hemingway pictured with his catch in the chapter “Marlin Off Cuba.”

Captured within this large, comprehensive volume compiled by renowned sportsman and author Eugene V. Connett is an unabashed and fruitful celebration of the sport, giving vivid descriptions of baiting, luring, and catching fish while explaining their migratory patterns and how the weather and the ever-changing seascape affects their populations.

As opposed to most other sports, having the ocean as a playing field not only offers breath-taking scenery but also a tumultuous and unpredictable one, which promises its own unique brand of excitement. Learning to master it is a difficult task, and the book leaves no stone unturned in its quest to teach readers how to make the most out of their fishing trip and what crucial advice to follow. Several anecdotes by various contributors, including one by acclaimed American author Ernest Hemingway are also contained within, detailing some of the best catches the country has to offer accompanied with photos of the largest fish ever reeled in.

Click to view full image.

Furthermore, many individual pages feature intricate drawings of fish that mirror the style of old illuminated manuscripts which would  begin the first paragraph of each chapter with a decorative letter and which would line passages with all kinds of ostentatious ornamentation. Hand-drawn diagrams of fish are also included to show certain details that photographs can’t capture, such as the different methods of baiting hooks, and the book’s many maps outline the specific locations of certain fish on various local American coasts. The volume finally concludes with a list of astonishing world records as of 1935, illustrating how vast and popular of a sport fishing is and how it has drawn people of all ages and cultures from all over the globe to take part in it.

COOLCRAZYBEAUTIFUL is written by Yvette Yurubi and showcases unique items at Special Collections and the University Archives discovered by librarians and staff members while on the job. They gather monthly for “Show and Tell” to present their top finds. You too can experience these items up close, and access other rare and interesting treasures, by visiting Special Collections and the University Archives, located on the 8th floor of the Otto G. Richter Library.