Trout Water

An elegiac memoir about fly-fishing on America’s greatest trout stream . . .


At the beginning of trout fishing season, Josh Greenberg — proprietor of one of the nation’s most famous fishing outfitters, on America’s most iconic trout-fishing stream, the Au Sable River in Michigan — is struggling to cope with the slow death of a close friend. When he gets the call that his friend has finally passed, Greenberg is standing in the Au Sable River at dusk.

The solace he takes from fishing — from reading the movement of the river water, studying the play of the light, and relying on his knowledge of insect and fish life — prompts him to reflect on the impact of the natural world on his life in his fisherman’s journal.

Over the course of a year, the journal transcends fishing notes to include some beautifully lyrical nature writing, entertaining stories of the big one that got away, cheerful introspection about a love that’s hard to explain, and yes, a tip or two.

Eventually, Josh Greenberg realizes he hasn’t been alone in the woods. Much of his relationship with his family and friends has played out on the river. And as he catches — and releases — trout after trout back into one of the most beautiful rivers in America, Greenberg comes to help us realize, too, that there’s more to fishing than catching fish.

Josh Greenberg is manager of the famous Gates Au Sable Lodge, and writes a popular, on-line fishing report that draws as many as 40,000 hits a month. He has contributed to several magazines, including FlyRod & Reel and Fly Fisherman. He is the author of Rivers of Sand: Fly Fishing Michigan and the Great Lakes Region.

”Josh Greenberg is my kind of nature writer: unassuming, accessible and, while knowledgeable, a guy for whom knowledge serves as a reminder of how little he actually knows…. As Trout Water progressed, I found myself growing increasingly fond of Mr. Greenberg’s voice. Even a nonangler will see that the author gets it. He knows how haphazard life is and feels lucky rather than entitled to have fallen in love with fishing, to be connected to the great dynamo of the natural world. — Bill Heavey, The Wall Street Journal

”Worthy of Jim Harrison … Nicely contemplative and featuring plenty of tips for fellow anglers … Every angler will appreciate Greenberg’s adventures and misadventures on shining waters.” —Kirkus Reviews

”Greenberg’s accessible and personal volume concentrates largely on the famous river familiar to many Northern Michigan anglers. … His enchantment with the river comes through clearly and with flair. Good reading.” — Glen Young, The Petosky (MI) News-Review

”In this luminous, limpid journal/memoir, Josh Greenberg has given Michigan’s legendary Au Sable River a pulse and presence in language that is at once clear and immediate, informative and educational,  lyrical and transcendent, like the river itself. This is fly-fishing literature of the first order––a classic for our time–– and should be on every angler’s shelf.”
—Bob DeMott, Astream: American Writers on Fly Fishing, and Angling Days

”Josh Greenberg shares with us a heart warming and contemplative celebration of water, the fish that swim in it, and friends and family, both past and present, that have revolved around it.”  —Barry Ord Clarke, author of The Feather Bender’s Flytying Techniques

”There are two fly fishing authors I seek when looking for a great read. The first is John Gierach—probably one of the most popular crossover fly fishing authors of all time. The second is my friend, Josh Greenberg—the best fly fishing author many people may not have heard of. That is, at least for now. Josh’s writing is for anyone (fisher or non-fisher) who enjoys a great read, and his prose is simply amazing—and so is his new book, Trout Water: A Year on the AuSable.” —George Daniel, author of Dynamic Nymphing, Strip Set, and Nymph Fishing

Praise for Josh Greenburg’s previous book, Rivers of Sand . . .

”A delightful gem that deserves an honored place in every literate fly angler’s library, because, like Thoreau, he has managed to make the local universal. Greenberg’s accessible, conversational voice delivers the kind of experienced knowledge and wisdom  that benefits fly fishers everywhere.” —Robert DeMott, editor of Astream: American Writers on Fly Fishing

“Every year or two, or maybe even five, a wonderful book arrives that infuses a compelling narrative, accomplished lyric prose, and practical dispensation of rarified knowledge, a singular book, in other words, that could not have been written by anyone other than its author. . . Rise for this book!” —Chris Dombrowski, author of Earth Again

“Pulls you forward with a beautiful and compelling  blend of history, people, rivers, flies, and the introspection of a fine, inquiring mind.” —Joseph Heywood, author of The Snowfly