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A Library of Angling Oral History

Do you love fishing? Have you used angling “fly-fishing”?

Angling is a method of fishing by means of an "angle". The hook is usually attached to a fishing line and the line is often attached to a fishing rod. This practice is widely used in America’s Northwest, and used all over the world as well. Last year, an American pioneer of the Catch – and – Release movement has died.  Bud Lilly, 91, passed away in Bozeman, MT. Lilly was renowned as a guide, business owner and advocate whose conservation work helped preserve Montana’s stream resources and shaped the culture of modern fly fishing.

As reported in the Montana Standard, “While he grew famous in the sport, he guided the rich and famous, including media stars like Dan Rather, Curt Gowdy, and Charles Kuralt, and as the owner of a legendary West Yellowstone fly shop where Jimmy Carter once visited him, he will be remembered most for everything he gave back to the sport.”

When Lilly met with a librarian at Montana State University, he inspired the librarian to launch the “Angling Oral History Project” to collect, preserve, and disseminate the histories, opinions, and stories of politicians, artists, guides, authors, and anglers from all walks of life. 

To date, the librarian has recorded more than 150 oral histories for the project. Those oral histories — which range in length from roughly 10 minutes to about two hours — come from men and women from approximately 40 countries, including Iceland, India, Japan, Nepal, Russia, the U.S. and South Africa.

The project has been supported by MSU and by a three-year, $90,000 grant from the Willow Springs Foundation, librarian said.

In each history collects, librarian asks the angler the same set of questions to collect baseline data. Then asks questions aimed at the angler’s area of expertise. For example, asks artists what inspires them and their views of the relationship between art and fishing.

Interviews are freely available and searchable to anyone online through our MSU created database.


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