This book is a must-read for anyone who loves to fish

By V. Paul Reynolds

Another excellent book, in a long parade of Maine-based books, has been published by Islandport Press in Yarmouth. “Tributaries” by Ryan Brod, filmmaker, writer and fishing guide, is a collection of fishing essays that, as the dust cover proclaims, “explores the lines between passion and obsession.”

To be honest, I had not heard of Ryan Brod, a Smithfield, Maine native, who teaches creative writing at the University of New England and has been published in a number of national magazines.

I liked his book a lot!

If you are an angler you will connect with Brod’s story telling before you ever get to the second chapter. Brod, as you might expect, is a craftsman with the written word and, as a relatively young man, he has flung many a fly line from the muskie holes on the Allagash River to the tarpon channels in the Florida Keys.

Brod’s angling recollections have an energy and authenticity, as well as a presence, that put you there – in the bow of the canoe, or on the fishing platform of the Keys skiff. He writes “…my line comes tight. I strip set and bury the rod butt into my right hip. The loose line resting on my feet jumps and I clear it of all obstructions. The tarpon somersaults, crashes, runs – my fingers burn with the friction of fleeing fly line. I’m already into the backing. A football field away, the tarpon jumps again.”

Perhaps because I have fished some of Brod’s favorite angling haunts, in Maine and in Florida, his book has special meaning for me. But I count him as a kindred spirit for another reason, one that makes his essays stand out. Brod, a young man, is blessed with a maturity and introspective insight of a man well beyond his years.

One of the deeper themes in this book is father/son relationships. In his chapter,”Before Dark,” he laments the aging and imminent passing of his favorite fishing buddy, his father. Like many a younger son, he had always figured that he would lose his father quickly, from a heart attack, while cutting firewood or on a deer hunt. “Instead, I have witnessed his slow progression toward old age, the gradients of which…have been painful to witness.” The father  “is losing his mind’s archives as his illness progressed – a lifetime of fish, tides, names, faces – gone.”

As a younger outdoorsman, who knew no better, I banked on my vast repository of fishing and hunting memories, and wonderful friendships forged, to fill the rocking chair days. Now I know better, know that in life there are no guarantees that, as Brod puts it, “his mind’s archives” will sustain him in his twilight years.

Don’t be put off. “Tributaries” is far more entertaining and uplifting than it is somber in its serious digressions. As one of Brod’s reviewers put it, he has an “old-school heart,” and it is what makes this book far more than a collection of essays about catching fish.

“Tributaries,” by Ryan Brod, published by Islandport Press in Yarmouth, Maine, $18.95.

The author is editor of the Northwoods Sporting Journal. He is also a Maine Guide and host of a weekly radio program “Maine Outdoors” heard Sundays at 7 p.m. on The Voice of Maine News-Talk Network. He has authored three books. Online purchase information is available at www.sportingjournal.com.

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