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 review 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.
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.
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.”
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.
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 http://www.bobmallard.com/stone-fly-press.html. 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.