From the stunning photographs to the many details that can make your fishing trip easy and fun, Bob Mallard’s landed a trophy with his new book: 25 Best Towns – Fly Fishing For Trou, published by Stonefly Press. After a long career as a fly fisherman and fly shop owner, Bob has become a prolific writer, published in many national and regional newspapers and magazines, and author of several terrific books.
I got to know Bob when he was an aggressive advocate for Maine’s native brook trout. And yes, he could sometimes be annoying – or annoyingly persistent – but I never blamed him for that because I admired his passion and commitment to our heritage fish. I enjoyed several fishing adventures with Bob, and also fished with his wonderful wife Diane, to whom the book is dedicated (very appropriately) and who took many of the awesome photos in the book.
This is not your usual book about fishing, focused only on the fish. This book is focused on destinations. “I wanted to cover places with many options,” Bob writes in the Introduction, “not single-water destinations.” I especially like the way he offers things for non-anglers to enjoy at these destinations, to “address the needs of the fly fisher who is traveling with nonfishing friends, significant others, or family – or even the fly fisher who requires a certain level of creature comforts and services.”
Yes, Bob, that would be me, in both cases. My wife fly fishes but is not obsessed with it like I am, so it’s great to learn of other fun things to do in these places, and yes, I am into comfort and pampering. Bob even gives us good places to stay and to eat, along with guides, outfitters, fly shops, fishing license info and more. Everything you need to know for a memorable trip is here.
When I read Bob’s “Preparing for the Book” section, I was envious. “It was a dream project,” he writes, “that sent us to some spectacular and beautiful places. It allowed me to fish some of the finest and best-known trout waters in the country, and to do so with some of the finest and best-known guides in the country.
“From day trips in Maine; to long weekends in Vermont and New Hampshire; to a split week in New York and Pennsylvania; to week-long trips to Michigan, Arkansas, and North Carolina; to a month-long excursion to Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming, we lived the dream for the better part of two fishing seasons.” Yes, Bob, you lived my dream too!
So, these are not just places Bob’s heard about. He’s been there, done that, lived the good life. Why didn’t I become an outdoor writer? Wait. I did. And yes, I’ve had some mighty fine fishing trips of my own. But surprisingly, I have not been to most of the places in this book.
Flipping through the Table of Contents, I noticed Rangeley, the only Maine location in the book. So I started there, figuring I knew it well and could judge how good a job Bob did in describing the angling and other opportunities here. Well, he did a great job – too great I am afraid. My favorite places are likely to be crowded if this book is a big seller.
Consider the opening paragraph: “Rangeley, Maine, is the brook trout capital of the United States. Nowhere in the country is there a better concentration of self-sustaining, native, Eastern brook trout rivers and lakes. Nowhere in the country do you have a better opportunity to catch wild native brook trout that are measured I pounds not inches – especially in a river. When it comes to brook trout, there is no place better to be than Rangeley, Maine.”
All my favorite Rangeley fishing spots are here, along with some of my favorite inns and restaurants, and the awesome Outdoor Sporting Heritage Museum in Oquossuc. I guess I should be relieved that Bob didn’t tell them about the fantastic fishing upta my camp in the north woods!
If I counted right, Bob tells us about places in 15 states, several of which have more than one destination. So next, I turned to the Montana destinations, five in all. Turns out I’ve fished in all five places. And boy, does he get them right. He even lists my all-time favorite guide, Joe Sowerby, of Montana Fly Fishing Connection. Joe grew up in Maine and I’ve been privileged to fish all over Montana with him, including an amazing five-day float on the Smith River, a trip I wrote about in my outdoor news blog on January 3, 2016.
From North Carolina to Oregon and Washington, New York and Vermont to Idaho and Wyoming, Bob lives our dream, and tells us how to do it. So many places, so little time!