Book Review: My Life In Fishing by Stu Apte

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My Life In Fishing by Stu Apte, Stonefly Press, ISBN: 9781939226709, $29.95

There are giants who walk among us. Technically, they are human. But upon further examination, they reveal themselves to be of a different order.

For proof, I submit Stu Apte. Stu has done things that you and I never will. He was a fighter jet pilot in the Korean War, and then a pilot for the legendary Pan Am airline. He drank mojitos with Hemingway, guided U.S. Presidents, was fishing buddies with the last player to hit .400, fished with luminaries in the world of angling like Joe Brooks and Curt Gowdy, and became the sharpie’s sharpie of big game saltwater fly fishing. Oh. He also held, or still holds, over six dozen IGFA world records.

My Life in Fishing is subtitled “Favorite Long Stories Told Short,” and the resulting format shines under the author’s charming, often humble recollection of his experiences. Apte is a simple writer, yet his stories held me captive over several evenings. This is the kind of book that I love: it’s really an expansive how-to manual (among my favorites: when fighting a big fish, to play him long is to play him wrong) disguised as a collection of personal anecdotes.

Apte cut his angling teeth in south Florida, so the book is saltwater-heavy, especially snook, tarpon, bonefish, sailfish, and permit. But there are chapters on stripers, trout, Atlantic salmon, and many more species.

The cover photo is representative of the book’s photography: simple, evocative shots on both color and black & white film that transport you back to an era when the tarpon were in thick and anglers didn’t look like they dressed out of a catalog. There is a homeyness and an honesty to the shots that is lacking in so much modern angling imagery, and the keen observer will note the absence of photos of anglers with elbows locked straight out, thrusting their catch into the camera lens.

Quibbles? Only one. The exclamation point is overused in this book! Some passages read like a text!

Thanks for writing this, Stu. My Life in Fishing makes me wish it was fifty years ago, and I could call you up and book a tarpon trip. But if you’re ever up in Connecticut, give me a ring. The guide trip’s on me.

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