cover image Lords of the Fly: Madness, Obsession, and the Hunt for the World Record Tarpon

Lords of the Fly: Madness, Obsession, and the Hunt for the World Record Tarpon

Monte Burke. Pegasus, $26.95 (304p) ISBN 978-1-64313-558-8

Sportswriter Burke (Saban: The Making of a Coach) takes a fascinating deep-dive look into the world of tarpon fishing and the town famous for it. In the more than 40 years since Tom Evans, a New York City stockbroker, first caught a world-record fish in Homosassa, Fla., in 1977, he has returned to the area and landed six more record tarpons in the surrounding waters. His success made this small town the hub of saltwater fly-fishing in the 1970s and ’80s, and attracted professional anglers (Stu Apte, Lefty Kreh, Billy Pate, Ted Williams) as well as fishing enthusiasts including writers Jim Harrison and Thomas McGuane and landscape painter Russell Chatham. Burke wonderfully captures their stories as well as those of their unsung guides, detailing the alliances and rivalries (local outfitters disliked the growing number of guides coming up from the Keys; and Keys outfitters felt “the manner in which [the locals] fished the place was rather primitive”). Burke’s writing is vivid and lyrical, as when he describes how “the roots of the mangroves... gripped the river bottom like the fingers of witches.” Told with an angler’s eye for detail, even the glossaries of fishing terminology and fly-fishing techniques will engage readers (a fish is icicled when it “is totally spent from a fight and is motionless in the water, its tail suspended over its head”). Fly-fishing fans will be hooked. (Sept.)