Arts & Culture » Lit

Catch and Release

Author of Fishing Idaho has more projects on the line


In the mid-1990s, Joe Evancho worked in a fly shop in Idaho. His customers repeatedly asked for guidebooks about fishing in the state, but nothing that comprehensively covered the topic existed. So Evancho decided to write one himself. The first edition of Fishing Idaho: An Angler's Guide came out in 1996 and a revised and updated second edition, which includes three new chapters, was released last year. Nearly 10,000 copies have been sold.

Evancho, who holds degrees in journalism and conservation, worked with state-employed biologists to gather much of the information included in his pages. He describes Fishing Idaho as a useful resource for fisherman, but is quick to add it doesn't give away any secrets.

The author cast his first line when he was just 3 years old. He fondly recalls fishing for perch near his grandparents' cabin in northern Michigan, but it was the cutthroat trout he hooked at Henry's Fork near Idaho Falls when he was 16 that changed his life. He says, "I had never caught one [a cutthroat] before and wanted to catch some more. They're beautiful."

A native of Detroit, Evancho took up permanent residence in Idaho in 1990. He's caught many cutthroat since that time, along with trout, bass, walleye, a variety of pan fish and more. He's fished waters from Bonner's Ferry in the panhandle to Bear Lake in the southeast, and suspects he has seen more of the state than many people who have lived here their entire lives. He's happiest when he's flyfishing or walk and wade fishing, but has no complaints fishing from a river bank, drift boat or float tube.

For Evancho, fishing is often a solitary and peaceful experience. He says, "I can go someplace by myself and waste hours at a time-standing in a river, listening to the trees, and seeing the moose and seeing the deer. ... And not worry about anything until I get out of the water."

Other times, fishing is cathartic. A few years ago, Evancho's cousin Ken was killed in a motorcycle accident and Evancho was unable to attend the funeral. "The only thing I can do is go fishing," he remembers. "I can catch a fish, name it Ken and release it. And I go do that."

Recognized as an expert on fishing and the outdoors, Evancho has published articles about fishing in Silver Creek and hiking in the City of Rocks for such magazines as Fly Rod and Reel, Men's Journal and other regional and national publications. He is currently working on his second guidebook, Idaho High Mountain Lakes, and says the fishing and hiking guide will be available before Thanksgiving. After that, he plans to write a book on sturgeon fishing in North America, as well as an outdoor cooking cookbook.

Evancho writes about outdoor activities in Idaho, but when asked if he has a favorite fishing hole, he just says, "Yeah." He's still not giving away any secrets.