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James Stenson attended Florida State University and has a bachelor’s degree in Information Science and a master’s in Library Science and Information Studies. He has written numerous articles and columns about fly-fishing, surfing and the unique culture of South Florida. He served as the 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 fishermen 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.

It is a masterpiece of storytelling and environmental awakening, South Florida’s Fishing Paradise, by Jim Stenson

By Skip Clement

Click on cover . . .

Stenson treats readers to an intimate view of characters that mentored him through childhood to manhood because parenting was AWOL. The front-row seat Jim provides is not one of autobiographical despair; it’s one of joy. He never criticizes his absent parentage; he believes it was what it was, preferring instead to live in the now.

His being molded and finding purpose in life is baked by a cast of Runyonesque characters like Frank the Net, a trailer park Woodstock hippy couple, and several others you will enjoy meeting. Some of these personalities are friends for life, others passing guides at critical stages in his upbringing that influenced his becoming the environmentally clued outdoorsman, and gifted chronicler he is today.

Stenson’s growth as a person, writer, outdoorsman, conservationist, and businessman is hatched in the pages of his autobiographical book. What makes South Florida’s Fishing Paradise most remarkable is not only because it is a page-turner but because he nails what happened and continues happening to Marjory Stoneman Douglas’ The Everglades: River of Grass.

The raison d’être of South Florida’s remarkable fishery is the Everglades, which begins its flow just north of Orlando, Florida, in Reedy’s Swamp and impacts every square acre of land and water as it traverses south to The Florida Keys and east to the Atlantic Ocean, and west to the Gulf of Mexico.

In his first-person narrative, Jim Stenson weaves into his story what Florida’s fishery of tarpon, snook, and many more of the world’s great gamefish was like and in many places remain today. Stenson gives readers an unconfined view of South Florida’s fall from being the Breathmaker’s masterpiece, as Buffalo Tiger, former chief of the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians, put it in 1975, to today’s governance of hostility towards anything that smells like environmental common sense.

Florida’s power brokers remain undeterred by reality like the loss of over seven million acres of pristine wetlands, the corporate welfare unwittingly paid for by taxpayers to the sugarcane industry, the abomination of large-scale citrus farming, and the Corps of Engineers’ reckless ‘straightening’ and dredging the Kissimmee River, to the anathema of damming and diking of Lake Okeechobee. The politics of men and women of power in Tallahassee continue to ignore everything beyond what’s for lunch today at the club, Mr. Lobbyist, sir?

If you like a good read, get what might become a classic of Florida’s failure to care for its Breathmaker-gifted environmental one-off masterpiece and fly fishers paradise.

Contact the Author:

James Stenson

Sweet Waters Adventure travel website . . .

FYI: Map of water flow in South Florida before, now, and maybe later.

NOTE: Napoleon Bonaparte Broward, past governor of Florida, ran on the call to action that Florida should “Drain that abominable pestilence-ridden swamp” and won in 1905. The self-loathing tour initiated by Broward has never wholly disappeared. 

Once an expansive and flourishing ecosystem, the Florida Everglades has been a topic of discussion among environmentalists for decades. In its natural state, the Everglades spanned across a third of Florida, with water flowing from Reedy’s Swamp into the  Kissimmee River, down through Lake Okeechobee, to the Florida Keys. When development began in the late 1800s, these massive wetlands were channelized and drained to create livable urban and agricultural lands for the increasing population.

Historic flow, current abortion, and planned flow – map by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District.


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