Megalops: An Angler's Affair with Tarpon

Brown pours out the details of his passion for tarpon in this charming little book, covering a lot of water in only 43 1/2 pages of text.

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Review by Steve Raymond

Megalops is the generic name for tarpon, but megafish might have been more appropriate. That's because, compared with other fish, tarpon always seem a bit larger than life - which is why some anglers, such as Tosh Brown, quietly go nuts over them.

Brown pours out the details of his passion for tarpon in this charming little book, covering a lot of water in only 43 1/2 pages of text. He tells about his introduction to tarpon and his fly-fishing apprenticeship, offers thoughts about the finicky eating habits of this fish, quotes bits of wisdom from many tarpon guides, recites a wonderful tale about a resolute tarpon that wrecked both a fly rod and reel, and offers a concise history of the great tarpon fishing once available off Port Aransas, Texas.

But mostly this book is just about Tosh versus tarpon. If my obsession with the tarpon could be diagnosed as an illness, then these past few years I have certainly followed the emotional path of a terminal patient, he writes. There has been anger, denial, incessant bargaining and delusions; but now I believe I have finally reached the level of fundamental acceptance, an awakening sense of tarpon tranquillity ... .

The big grab, the screaming run, the fly line whipping off the deck and those violent skull-rattling jumps are really what this fish is all about. But unfortunately, those great things occur most frequently in the first 45 seconds of the fight. After that it becomes a battle of wills: me fighting him because I want to let him go, and him fighting back because his instincts are telling him that I won't.

Brown's language is a little sloppy at times, but it's dressed up so nicely in this deluxe limited edition (1,500 copies) you'll hardly notice. Meadow Run Press is known for lavish, high-quality productions, and this one is no exception. The text is printed on heavy paper with 16 pages of photos, including color shots by the author and numerous historic black-and-white views. The handsome binding is protected by a clear-plastic dust jacket, and the whole thing is packaged elegantly in a slipcase. The result is a book that's not only pleasing to read, but also pleasing to own.