It's sort of a long story — 426 pages to be more precise, if not quite exact.
What began as a short story in college eventually became a novel about a sportswriter and an Olympic swimmer who shared the same hometown. The swimmer was nicked with the name America's Little Fish in the course of the story. For six months between the end of my first run at the Rocky Mountain News and joining the Chicago Sun-Times I paid more attention to America's Little Fish's life than my own. It was a story primarily about journalism and the facade of objectivity. But it was also a story about the West and about what happens when we run out of places to explore.
As it became clear that continuing my life in journalism would mean one of ongoing uncertainty and I began contemplating starting a website or a publishing company, I gravitated toward the name America's Fish rather than something like, say, Steve Foster Inc. What a terrible name that would have been. Driven by what I had learned in writing my own book as well as my love of three books in particular — The River Why and My Story As Told By Water by David James Duncan and A River Runs Through It by Norman McLean — I began to form a loose analogy in the back of my mind. The trout, bass, salmon, cutthroat, catfish, bullhead, pike, perch and carp, America's fish or the fish of the Americas, the unseen creatures swimming in the rivers, lakes, brooks, streams, ponds and oceans ages before anyone thought to explore their waters were ...
It had something to do with mortality and probably the meaning of life, I think, but I have since been distracted by a number of baseball games and I never really finished the thought. Still, the image of unseen fish beneath the surface, a picture that is, of course, simply water, has stuck with me — as did the name. Thus, America's Fish.