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James Stenson has written numerous articles and columns about fly-fishing, surfing and the unique culture of South Florida. He was Managing Editor and Publisher of The Contemporary Sportsman and The Contemporary Wing Shooter magazines, and he’s the founder of Sweet Waters Adventure, an international adventure travel company catering to fly fishers and wing shooters. Jim also owns Integrated Digital Publishing, an outdoor marketing company specializing in graphic design, photography, web design, and video development. Photo by Sweet Waters Adventure.

A Tale of Three Fishes, by Jim Stenson

Skip Clement, New Zealand

By Skip Clement

In Jim Stenson’s book, A Tale of Three Fishes, he uses the subject of iconic sport fish, permit (Trachinotus falcatus), Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar), and steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss), as backdrop to unleash his dismay on the worldwide lack of meaningful conservation. Mixing in along the way, as only he can, humor with the pain of failing to outsmart his Pisces rivals, the sadness of losing beautiful and one-off realms to the politics of greed along with the joys of being bitten by the travel bug for which there is no known cure.

I shall be happily infected until the end of my life.

— Michael Palin, author of Around the World in 80 Days.

Jim Stenson drips genuineness

Stenson takes his readers along for a coast-to-coast ride, which is why his tellings are always so memorable – we come to know what it is like to chase game fish the world over. Right away, in the earliest pages, I became an obsessed observer. Especially so when it comes to awareness of the degradation of whole fisheries through man’s constant meddling and greed and not even mentioning Trumpian-like stupidity – thinking of oneself as utterly correct without a single credit earned.

Adult steelhead trout – illustration provided courtesy of Thom Glace.

Reading Stenson is far more important to conservation-minded fly fishers than his publisher recognizes. Stackpole Books has lost its former knowledge of outdoors and fly fishing, but fortunately, it still recognizes good writing.

The clatter at a airport gate area did not interrupt my time travel in pursuit of an Atlantic salmon, permit, or steelhead – always a welcomed escape. 

Stenson takes you across borders as if in the seat next to him – meeting characters, game fishes, magical places struggling to remain so, and the reality of failing at loving what you’re doing.

Understanding the natural world and what’s in it is a source of not only a great curiosity but great fulfillment.”

― Sir David Attenborough

Jim writes to be a good permit fly fisher, you need, at the very least, a masochistic streak. A want ad looking for qualified permit fly fishers might read something like this:

“Wanted: Permit Fly Fishers. Must be able to cast a fly a minimum of 90-feet into gale-force winds and lay it down softly in an area the size of a saucer. Must be sadomasochistic at heart and be able to travel on a minute’s notice. It helps to be filthy rich.”

– page 82, Chapter: Permit at 10 O’clock . . .


A Tale of Three Fishes

Stackpole Books
162 pages
Publication date: December 15, 2023

Contact the author:

Sweet Waters Adventure

Permit ilustration

Permit illustration by award-winning watercolorist Thom Glace. Visit his site here . . . 

Adult Atlantic Salmon by Thom Glace, award winning watercolorist, dedicated fly fisher, and conservationist.


Author Skip

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