Review/ 50 Best Places Fly Fishing the Northeast

50 Best Places Fly Fishing the Northeast, by Bob Mallard, Forward by Thomas Ames, Jr. Stonefly Press, c/o Ware-Pak, LLC., 2427 Bond Street, University Park, IL 60484. 2014. Let me start this book 50 bestreview with a typical disclaimer. Though I am one of 43 contributing writers in the work, I was paid nothing for my chapter on the subject of Slate Run other than a contributor’s copy when the book was published… Alright, I do get free publicity in the bio section for Rivertop Rambles and, as spokesman for the Slate Run Sportsmen group, I’m able to express my thanks for the great work the group does to promote the preservation of the Pine Creek Valley and its trout streams. Other than that, I’m not receiving a dime for this review, nor was I even asked to write it.DSCN5321

I’m exposing this work because the book is worthy of consideration by anyone with a serious interest in fly fishing or in the exploration of some excellent northeastern waters.

Author Bob Mallard owns and operates Kennebec River Outfitters in Maine. His book, published by Stonefly Press, is full size and contains 232 pages covering his 50 best fly-fishing locations in nine northeastern states. Mallard wrote seven of the 50 chapters and invited 43 contributors to write about the other streams and rivers, in addition to Montauk and Cape Cod Bay. Contributors, representing a variety of outfitters, lodge owners, conservation workers, and other interests, wrote about their home waters in a format that, for the most part, works quite well.

DSCN5319Accolades abound for this hefty, color-saturated, information-packed volume, and though I have some minor reservations about the overall effect, I think they are deserved.

At first I was skeptical about another “50 Best” volume, and I wasn’t sure about exposing Slate Run to another critical display designed for visitors, but when I heard that writers such as Ted Williams and even Lefty Kreh were on board, I decided what the hell. If I didn’t write about Slate, then someone else would, and I might not like the end result.

I’m glad I decided to write. The Slate Run chapter was accepted pretty much as is. I started hoping that the stream might even get some needed love.

A back cover blurb by conservation writer Ted Williams (Fly Rod & Reel, Gray’s Sporting Journal, etc.) says, “This book, by one of the best anglers I know, fills a gaping void. There’s some world-class fishing in the Northeast, but until now I’ve not read a guide that takes you to it.”DSCN5315

The book is well-produced. There’s a full-page topo-grade map for every featured water (I helped design critical points for the Slate Run map). There are color photos of stream and fish (okay, some of the pics are tantamount to “fish porn,” those images of smiling anglers holding exaggerated trout and salmon, smallmouth bass,  pike and stripers). Each chapter describes a stream’s location and includes a bit of history, natural features, legal requirements, access, hatches, tackle, closest fly shops, guides/outfitters, lodging, restaurants, etcetera.

A back cover blurb by Tom Rosenbauer, Marketing Director at The Orvis Company, adds, “Bob Mallard’s guide rises to the top because it is current, honest, and just detailed enough to give you a head start on the better fly-fishing waters of the Northeast.”

When I began reading the book, I mistakenly expected an anthology of fishing writers collected by Mallard. There are 44 writers here but the book is clearly Mallard’s work. It’s not intended to be an entertaining volume with a multitude of voices. In fact, I found a chapter by chapter reading rather tedious, although informative. The volume works quite well when you go to a chapter and expect to be instructed.DSCN5326

Featured waters (to name 20 of the 50 in the book) include Maine’s W. Branch Penobscot, Kennebec, and Rapid River; New Hampshire’s Connecticut River; Vermont’s Batten Kill and White; Massachusett’s Deerfield and Swift; Connecticut’s Farmington and Housatonic; Rhode Island’s Wood; New Jersey’s S. Branch Raritan; New York’s W. Branch Delaware, Beaverkill, Neversink, and Salmon; and Pennsylvania’s Letort, Penn’s Creek, Pine, and Slate Run.

Photographs and artwork were provided by notables such as James Prosek, Lefty Kreh, Beau Beasley, Thomas Ames, Jr., and others. Signed copies of the book are available from the author at I believe the book price is $34.95.

I don’t expect many of my readers to rush into a book order here. In my opinion, the price is fairly expensive, but if you’re interested in traveling the Northeast at any time with an eye to excellent fly fishing opportunities, the book is definitely worth the cost.DSCN5317

About rivertoprambles

Welcome to Rivertop Rambles. This is my blog about the headwaters country-far afield or close to home. I've been a fly-fisher, birder, and naturalist for most of my adult life. I've also written poetry and natural history books for thirty years. In Rambles I will mostly reflect on the backcountry of my Allegheny foothills in the northern tier of Pennsylvania and the southern tier of New York State. Sometimes I'll write about the wilderness in distant states, or of the wild places in the human soul. Other times I'll just reflect on the domestic life outdoors. In any case, I hope you enjoy. Let's ramble!
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18 Responses to Review/ 50 Best Places Fly Fishing the Northeast

  1. Bob Stanton says:

    “If I didn’t write about Slate, then someone else would, and I might not like the end result.” Right on, brother, and there are probably a very few as well qualified as yourself to describe the nature of Slate Run. Congratulations. I’ll check it out.

  2. This makes me realize that I need to be living four lives at once — with unlimited financial resources in each — so that I can enjoy all the outdoor adventures on my bucket list.

  3. Brent says:

    This book looks great. Congratulations on the entry for Slate! I can’t wait to see the actual product in print.

  4. markw says:

    Interesting. Who wrote the Farmington and Housatonic sections?

  5. Thank you, Mark. The Housy chapter was written by outfitter, Harold McMillan, from Cornwall Bridge; the Farmington chapter by Rich Strolis, who owns Catching Shadows Custom Flies.

  6. This book is a worthy addition to any fly fisherman’s collection, if I had my pick of places to fish in the northeast my first on the list would have to be the Farmintgon, it is as close as I can get to my own tailrace here in Alabama. Thanks for sharing

    • The Farmington would probably be a good starting point for you, Bill, since a tailrace would be familiar to you. Then, a lot of other possibilities open up. Thanks for reading and responding.

  7. Thanks for the honest review and congrats on getting included in the book.

  8. Les Kish says:

    Congrats on your contribution Walt. Looks like a nicely laid out book.

  9. Leigh says:

    Congrats my friend. You are in good company.

  10. bob mallard says:

    Thanks for the kind words Walt. Like you I had my reservations about doing a where-to guide–and like you I knew it would be done regardless so took it on in hopes of doing the most good and least harm I could. I was great to get to involve so many people from so many walks of life. I take a lot of pride in having involved both young and old; shop, guide and conservation worker; and friends, peers and competitors alike. As for the price; the size, maps, color pictures and high quality paper make it an expensive book to publish. As for how that translates into value–I have spent more than $25 on 5×8 black-and-white guide books with simple maps, fewer sidebar entries, less text and far fewer pictures. So at just $34.95 I think it is a fair trade-off and a good product for the money. I am honored to have been able to pull it all together and glad to have had the chance to work with you.

    • Bob, thanks much for responding here. I think I understand the amount of work you put into this excellent product and the reason for the price, as it is. I’m honored to be a small part of this, and proud of the end result. Congratulations on a job well done, and I hope the book continues to be a great success.

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