Skip to main content

University of Washington – Tarpon in blue pencil from Freshwater and Marine Image Bank [England Smith, Hugh M. (1907) Fishes of North Carolina, North Carolina Geological and Economic Survey.] A commons image.

Book review by Skip Clement

Monte Burke is a staff writer at Forbes magazine and has also written for The New York Times, Outside, Men’s Journal, Town & Country, and Garden & Gun, among many other publications. He is the author of the books Saban: The Making of a Coach, 4th and Goal, and Sowbelly, and is a recipient of Barnes & Noble’s “Discover Great New Writers” award. He grew up in New Hampshire, Vermont, North Carolina, and Alabama and now lives in Brooklyn with his wife and three daughters. Photo Simon & Schuster.

We’ve collectively always enjoyed Monte Burke’s writing. He has an uncanny way of picking a subject matter that draws outdoor and sports readers to his pages. His hand is precise, humor always around the corner, and Lords of the Fly didn’t disappoint.

He covered every aspect of tarpon questing in the late 70s and early 80s in a unique little west coast town on the west coast of Florida, Homassas.

The best fly anglers in the world—Lefty Kreh, Stu Apte, Ted Williams, Tom Evans, Billy Pate and others—all gathered together to chase the same Holy Grail of fly fishing, Megalops atlanticus.

He caught the contribution significance and essence of everyone mentioned, which could be argued for days to come, but maybe not.

His followers and buds in the angling world are writers with creds and great pages penned. Writers’ books that I keep on a special shelf in my library – like Hiassen, James W. Hall, Randy Wayne White, and  David Dibenedetto. And one of my favorite actors and Pittsburgh homeboy like me, Michael Keaton.

In Lords of the Fly, Burke, an obsessed tarpon fly angler himself, delves into this incredible moment.  He examines the growing popularity of the tarpon, an amazing fish has been around for 50 million years, can live to 80 years old and can grow to 300 pounds in weight. It is a massive, leaping, bullet train of a fish.  When hooked in shallow water, it produces “immediate unreality,” as the late poet and tarpon obsessive, Richard Brautigan, once described it.

Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of Burke’s Lords of the Fly . . .



Author Skip

More posts by Skip

Leave a Reply