Book review: Chasing Ghost Trout

Book cover: Chasing Ghost Trout, by Dennis Dauble.In this deeply personal memoir, Dennis Dauble (’78 MS Biology) moves quickly through the stages of his life, starting with a cancer diagnosis in 2010 when he was 59, then jumping back to his earliest memory: fly fishing for fat-bellied trout with Grandpa Harry and making his first catch.

“Hand me a fly rod and once again I am a skinny little kid with a handful of chewed-up flies and something to prove,” writes Dauble, who reminisces about growing up in a tiny Oregon town in the 1950s and 1960s with four siblings⁠—all of their names start with D⁠—plus Dagwood the dog, a border collie.

Dauble documents five decades of family and fishing for wild trout in Oregon’s Blue Mountains. Nostalgia runs deep. There’s joy, of course, but plenty of heartbreak, too. Dauble doesn’t shy away from the tough stuff, including his fight with cancer, loss, and his last fishing trip with Grandpa Harry, who looms large in his memory.

A former fisheries scientist who also taught fish ecology, biology, and management at WSU Tri-Cities, Dauble married young and became a father at 21 with the birth of daughter Diana. Son Matthew Dauble (’98 Fine Arts) later drove the family’s beloved Ford Ranchero to WSU Pullman. Wife Nancy remains his “best friend for over 50 years and counting.”

You don’t have to enjoy fly fishing or have had a small-town Pacific Northwest childhood to enjoy this 206-page softbound collection of essays. Dauble’s latest book, his fifth, resonates with those who feel a wistful affection for the past. His approachable, casual, relatable style makes for easy reading.

Top image: Cover of Chasing Ghost Trout by Dennis Dauble, FishHead Press with Keokee Books: 2021

By Adriana Janovich, Washington State Magazine