Review by Steve Raymond
The idea for this book was a good one: Take a couple of salty fly-fishing veterans – John Cole and Brad Burns have nearly a century of fishing experience between them – and have them tell how to catch some of North America’s best game fish at some of its best fishing spots. Unfortunately, a simple oversight kept the idea from being executed as well as it should have been.
The problem: Both authors wrote in the first person, but the book’s editors failed to identify which parts each wrote. So when the text refers to “my friend Chip Bates” or “my friend Linwood,” the reader doesn’t know whose friend it is. And when it says, “I’ve seen some pretty fair surface blitzes around Montauk,” the reader doesn’t know who saw the surface blitzes.
Does this matter? One might argue that the quality of a book’s information is more important than how it’s presented, but it’s pretty frustrating when you can’t tell who’s doing the presenting. Cole and Burns include many personal anecdotes in the book – and the reader is left wondering which ones happened to Cole and which to Burns.
Aside from this major faux pas (and the lack of color illustrations, especially of fly patterns), this is a pretty good book. It has chapters on how to catch stripers on Maine’s Kennebec River, bonito in Massachusetts’ Vineyard Sound, bluefish at New York’s Montauk Point, weakfish in New Jersey’s Barnegat Bay, false albacore at North Carolina’s Harkers Island, permit and bonefish at Islamorada, tarpon at Key West, snook at Chokoloskee, Florida, and redfish at Port O’Connor, Texas. Each chapter offers a little history, a lot of good fish stories and some unusually detailed and helpful advice on fishing locations, techniques, seasons, flies and the like. The language also is unusually crisp and clear.
If you live anywhere near the Atlantic or Gulf coasts, this book could help you find fish and catch them on a fly.