75 Years of Fly Fishing, Family, and Friends

DSCN7084The only thing better than reading Burt Anderson’s new book, My Life on the Fly, full of wonderful stories, is to hear those stories first hand, sitting in his living room overlooking Parker Pond in Mount Vernon. That’s what I was doing for three hours yesterday, and it was a real privilege.

I was astonished to hear that Burt wrote the book two years ago while in the hospital, using a pencil and yellow legal pad. That’s how I started my writing career, 30 years ago!

Dr. Burton C. “Burt” Anderson had a long and illustrious career at Dupont, publishing many scientific papers and registering lots of patents. He’s a very smart guy! And his wife Joan is charming, a church organist – who made my day by inviting me back for a hymn sing.

But what captivated me as we sat there in his living room yesterday was the stories of his fly fishing adventures all around the world. Burt ties flies, builds fly rods, and knows a lot more about fishing than I do. But I kept up with him in stories for a while, because I’ve fished in some of the places he’s fished: Labrador, Quebec, Montana, Florida, and Alaska, as well as Maine.

So he’d tell me an Alaska story, and I’d offer up one of my own. When I ran out of stories, he continued on to Iceland, Britain, Mexico, The Bahamas, Belize, New Brunswick, and 11 other states. We covered so many different species of fish that I lost track. We talked about favorite fish, from Atlantic salmon to Crappies to Brook Trout.

Then we talked about Maine waters, and I’ve got to say I was impressed with the number of places Burt has fished in our state. No, I won’t tell you his favorites, but he does, in the book.

After a while, I got up to check out the fish mounts, art work, and Burt’s fly tying table, with quite a collection of some new fangled fly on a string above the table. He’s still coming up with new flies! Burt started tying flies when he was 12, and is still at it. All over the world, he fished with his own flies.

All the while I was sitting on the couch, I was staring at Charles Parks’ bronze of Burt’s huge Atlantic salmon. There are two photos of it in the book. I’ve never seen a bigger one.

DSCN7086The book actually has lots of great photos, many in color. The fish photos are certainly amazing, but my favorite photo was of Burt, now in his late 80s, at his Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, home. The photo is titled, “The lonely fly tier at his bench.” His smile told me he is not all that lonely!

For anglers, the book contains exceptionally good information about flies and fly fishing equipment. The info will be helpful to both novice and accomplished anglers.

But you should really buy this book for Burt’s stories of fishing and hunting with his family members and buddies. And you don’t have to be an angler or hunter to enjoy these stories.

If I had to choose a favorite, it would probably be “Dial MM for Murder.” The MM is the muddler minnow. It’s quite a story.

I’ve already read Burt’s book twice and will treasure it for years to come. You can purchase the book, for $20 plus the cost of shipping, by contacting Burt and his wife Joan at 16 Vernon Woods, Glen Mills, PA 19342, calling them at 610-361-8038, or emailing them at burtandjoan@gmail.com. They’re in Maine now, but will be heading home this weekend.


George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website, georgesmithmaine.com, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.