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Mark D. Williams

Professional Fishing Expert

Best Way to Fish & Best Fishing Books

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Fishing, chess, and baseball books fill up the sports category bookshelves at your local chain bookstore. For each sport (for these purposes, let’s not quibble about whether chess is a sport or if LeBron could dunk on Bobby Fischer), there is balance, tension, and each creates a symmetrical reflection of our own humanity. I had to leave out so many books, it probably deserves to be a top 100 list. How did I leave off “Flyfishing Through a Midlife Crisis”, “The Compleat Angler”, or anything by Zane Grey? I had to omit an unknown gem like “Guiding Elliott” by Robert Lee.

As this list shows, quality fishing books are as much about life and its duality as they are about fishing.

Be inspired for the best way to fish with our suggestions for best fishing books that reflect life's balances and tensions. These recommendations feature trout fishing books, fly fishing books and others at the best price.

Best Love-to-Fish Books by Mark D. Williams

The Best You Can Get

  • The River Why

    Mark says: This fishing book rises above the sport, the genre, the art of angling; this is an important American novel that resonates in spirit with other introspective, irreverent, absurd novels of discovery of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Duncan’s classic ranks with the works of famous writers of that time, Vonnegut, Heller, Wolfe, and Irving.

    Flyfishing is the means by which Duncan creates this classic where the main character’s (Gus Orviston) progressive unhappiness mimics the degradation of the natural world around him.

    • By David James Duncan
    • 304 pages
    • Sierra Club Books
  • Trout Bum

    Mark says: Gierach is the Vonnegut of flyfishing, finding the absurd, the comic juxtaposition, the philosophical bent to any situation on the water. His common-man take on the outdoors, fishing, and the world belies his intelligence. He’s just plain funny. Every page is comical and lyrical and witty. If you are humorless, you’ll enjoy how every page is all about flyfishing and that goes with it.

    I could have selected any of his other books, these consistent collections of his essays, but this is the one I read first. Trout Bum reveals the beauty of the sport, of nature without being sappy. He fishes and writes for a living so you can’t help but wish you were him.

    • By John Gierach
    • 256 pages
    • Pruett Publishing Company
  • Trout Madness

    Mark says: John Voelker wrote this and other books under the pen-name Robert Traver and his words celebrate fishing through the seasons, the successes and failures inherent in the sport and how those outdoors elements are reflected in our everyday lives. If you are a film buff, you’ve seen the classic movie "Anatomy of a Murder". Voelker wrote the screenplay. Nice river cred, huh? Trout Madness will ring true with those readers who love fishing so much, their hobby borders on "madness".

    • By Robert Traver
    • 192 pages
    • Simon and Schuster
  • A River Runs Through It

    Mark says: Exquisite. Paced. So involving and subtle, caustic and enchanting, the novella is as haunting as his theme that he is “haunted by waters”. Readers discover themselves in this tale of a flyfishing-obsessed family; love, male bonding, mortality, loss of innocence, dysfunctional families. The words flow over you like water. The book just sounds good, elegiac.

    The movie of the book (1992) is often credited with the resurgence of the popularity of flyfishing. Don’t think just because you have seen the movie, you are getting Maclean’s full drift. Read the book.

    • By Norman Maclean
  • The Habit of Rivers

    Mark says: Leeson writes effortlessly about fishing, the rivers, writing, life, and before long, you are enveloped in his words. He’s a writer’s writer, crafting memorable images and unforgettable scenes. He writes as though painting or better, sketching. A naturalist observing nature and man interacting.

    “The Habit of Rivers” will especially appeal to those readers who grew up fishing at the local pond, angling with granddad, lounging as much as catching. His humor is often dry, his terms sometimes Pynchon-esque but the overall effect of his work is mesmerizing.

    • By Ted Leeson
    • 196 pages
    • Lyons Press

You will be happy with any of these

  • The Seasons of a Fisherman

    Mark says: I selected this volume because it includes Haig-Brown’s four classics into one: Fisherman's Spring (1951), Fisherman's Summer (1959), Fisherman's Fall (1964), and Fisherman's Winter (1954). Roderick Haig-Brown is a Renaissance man, having done everything from guiding to law to conservation to radio to university chancellor. His works show that he is first and foremost a fisherman. And a graceful writer.

    Haig-Brown’s words are elegant, deep, engaging. Like many of the books on this list, this book is about fishing and how the sport helps anglers explore those parts of the world and themselves that they can’t fully explore in everyday life. Haig-Brown’s waters are in British Columbia and the seasons of these brawling rivers reflect those phases and changes in our own lives. Plus, Haig-Brown gets down and dirty talking about every facet of fishing, from hooks to flies to waders.

    • By Roderick Haig-Brown
    • 560 pages
  • Spring Creek

    Mark says: Nick Lyons is known for his publishing, his magazine work, his conservation efforts but I think in the long-term what he will be remembered for are his passionate words about the sport he loves so much. “Spring Creek” is a collection of twelve essays about his time spent on intimate waters of Spring Creek in Montana.

    What I like about “Spring Creek” and about Lyons is that he locates the essence of angling even in the small details, the off moments, the nap after lunch or the time under tree waiting out the rain. Fishing stories are not all about fishing and Lyons understands this.

    • By Nick Lyons
    • 169 pages
    • Atlantic Monthly Press
  • San Juan River Chronicles

    Mark says: I love Durango and southwestern Colorado and while Meyers’ setting for his stories is this wild, forbidding mountainous and hard-desert landscape, you don’t have to know the area to get him or his lyrical stories.

    Meyers loves the San Juan River, one of the finest trout rivers in the world but worries about its future in the face of ever-increasing throngs of anglers, ecological endangerment, and an already distant past of solitude. I love how easily Meyers moves from river to fishing to friends to hardships and back again, all the time reflecting the tenuous, fragile nature of them all.

    • Steven J. Meyers
    • 160 pages
    • Lyons Press
  • Earth is Enough: Growing Up in a World of Trout and Old Men

    Mark says: As much about legacy as fishing, “Earth is Enough” is a classic angling memoir, warm and poetic. The sad parts are sadder than any novel you’ll read, the funny sections, funnier than any comedian. Middleton deals with love and fear, the rhythms of life and fishing, and through the book, he wades through dualities galore. His words ring true but he is such a craftsman, that this borders on fiction, creative non-fiction. When you finish, you’ll ache to read it again, hug your family, and pick up a rod and go a-fishin’.

    • Harry Middleton
    • 272 pages
    • Fireside
  • The Longest Silence: A Life in Fishing

    Mark says: A whirlwind, worldwide personal journey, “The Longest Silence” is an introspective book full of memories, literary context, historical allusions, and best of all, thirty-three essays about all things fishing. McGuane is so esoteric and intelligent, he is only especially funny to smart people, the Dennis Miller of outdoor literature. His writing is often profound, always hooking you. There is a gonzo, outlaw feel to his works, like a Dennis Hopper waving a Sage rod standing in the middle of a river.

    • Thomas McGuane
    • 304 pages
    • Vintage Press

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Finding the best way to fish has as much to do about learning to fish as it does about living life. Our recommendations for the best fishing books tell tales filled with reflections about life. Choose from trout fishing books, fly fishing books and other best way to fish books at the best price.