Ozark angler pens book about happiness & health

By Rick Mansfield

Fishermen call their invitation to prey the “presentation.” It may be as simple as a hook-full of worms dangling beneath a red and white bobber for whatever will bite, or as specific as a three-ounce hand-painted loon targeting a wary musky.  

It might be a ball of dough, a live minnow or a plastic lure. For the fly fisherman, it is, of course, a fly.

For the purist, it is one they themselves created. Hand tied. 

Some form of string or yarn wrapped around the shank of a hook forms the body; flared pieces of feather or animal fur the hackle and tail. 

In total, an enticement difficult on which to pass.

That is what Ozark angler and lifelong conservationist Mark Van Patten has created with “Moonshine and Watermelons and Other Ozark Tales.”  

A hand-crafted attraction tough to pass. And in keeping with the author’s practice of catch and release, the reader will go away not only unharmed but better for the experience.

Much like Izaak Walton’s “The Compleat Angler” of nearly four centuries past, this is a book about life. Of “finding community and peace.”  

Van Patten has spent a life “happy and pleasant” as a “well-governed angler.” He may well be that “compleat angler” of which Izaak wrote. 

“Moonshine and Watermelons” invites the reader to share the foundations that a life of preserving our streams and engaging others in a “study to be quiet” was built on.

Looking back on decades of teaching others to both fly fish and tie flies, Van Patten has captured in two dozen chapters of mystery and mirth the essentials of happiness and health.  
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Time spent with families and friends. Time outdoors in clean air and on fresh water. Cherished moments of adventure and appreciation.

“Chewed Up Turtles” introduces the reader to the naivety of a displaced pre-teen urbanite to 1960’s rural Missouri.  

“Whistle? What Whistle?” reminds of the differences in language; “Devil’s Watch Goat” the varieties of culture and commerce.  

“The Rope” defines how friendships help overcome adversity; and “The Roubidoux” how “when you mix water with boys, you get magic.”

For some, this read will be a study in nostalgia. Will take you back to a childhood treasured and ever present in our memory.  

For others, it will introduce you to a life occasionally captured in some old movie or television show, but foreign in your own experience. 

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