For many fishermen, this passion transcends time on the water. Not only do we enjoy the act of catching billfish, but we also enjoy the learning process. Fishermen often—and some might say always—think about fishing, even in their downtime. One of the byproducts of this affection is the book. For proof that fishermen enjoy reading about fishing just as much as they enjoy the sport itself, just take a picture of yourself reading this article and circle back. We’ll wait.
Beyond the pages of Marlin, there are a number of books that have been written by—and about—notable captains. Here is a rundown of four recent fishing books for your reading enjoyment. Rather than providing our limited take on the books, we decided to let the authors sell you on their work themselves. From fishing stories to how-to guides and everything in between, fishermen find connections in humor, self-help and tragedy in ways never thought before.
By Capt. Bouncer Smith
- The Bouncer Smith Chronicles: A Lifetime of Fishing
- The Further Chronicles of Bouncer Smith: Fish On
- The Bouncer Smith Guidebook to Saltwater Gamefish, South Florida & the Bahamas
Bouncer Smith is perhaps as friendly and knowledgeable a resource as there is in the saltwater landscape. Over the course of his 50-plus-year career of guiding clients in pursuit of everything that swims in South Florida, Smith has certainly accumulated his share of stories. Smith’s books, which he produced in partnership with author Patrick Mansell, are his way of putting his life on paper.
“The first two books are a collection of stories from my life in fishing. It’s an autobiography, of sorts, in story form,” he says. “The third is a guidebook on fish habits.”
Just as Smith’s career is marked by the incredible ability to be good at catching just about everything, his books are relatable to a variety of audiences. “The books are meant for anyone who likes to fish,” he says. “Some are stories of great catches; others are human-impact stories, of trips that we took with disabled kids. And one, well, it’s a story about the time I got arrested. This book gave me the chance to explain that incident in a way I had never done before,” he says. “There is also an assortment of lifestyle pieces in it as well.”
So, which one is Bouncer’s favorite story? “Sharing the true measure of Martin Arostegui’s catch of a swordfish on fly; Arostegui was the first to ever accomplish that feat. He tied his own fly and rigged his own leader. He set out to catch a swordfish on fly, and he did so in the first hour of the trip. And he caught it from a dead boat, no less,” Smith says.
By Capt. Kenton Geer
When asked for the book’s elevator pitch, Kenton Geer pauses for a moment. “Well, my favorite review has been that the book was ‘an unexpected love story covered in blood and fish guts,’” he says with a laugh. “It is a story of staying true to yourself. I started writing the book at the suggestion of my therapist while I was working through a bout of depression.”
Geer was originally hesitant to share his personal story but ultimately did so in a post on social media. “When I came back in from offshore, I had 497 private messages. Many of them said they were going through the same thing I was,” he recalls.
Just how has Geer’s first foray into the world of book authorship fared thus far? “It was trending as the No. 1 fishing book on Amazon for two days, and it’s been in the Top 10 of the category for a few weeks.
“This book is about the trials and tribulations of a fisherman’s life—offshore and on,” Geer explains. “It is in the form of 15 short stories that make up a narrative. A lot of the book is about my commercial-fishing career (Geer currently runs an offshore hand-line boat in Hawaii) and my time as a traveling mate in Australia; fishing is a constant theme throughout the book.”
By Lauren Miller
- Strike: Reminisces of Captain Bart Miller
Capt. Bart Miller left an indelible mark in the sport-fishing community. More than just the worldwide Black Bart lure brand he founded, or the famous 1,656-pound blue marlin he caught as a charter captain in Hawaii, those who spent time with him remember Miller for his stories and colorful character. Written by his daughter, Lauren Miller, Strike is a read that not only captures history, but also provides a lasting tribute to her father.
“The inspiration was my dad’s,” Lauren says. “He always wanted to write a book. He had a library of documents, photos and short stories that he kept in his loft. A few months prior to Dad’s passing, Capt. Scott Levin visited with us and asked me, ‘What are you going to do with all of your father’s fishing history?’” she recalls. “That afternoon, I went through those boxes in the loft and found numerous pieces of the story waiting to be put together. Later on, I found a working file for a book on his computer, with a rough chapter outline and even a working title: Strike. It was difficult at first to put the history together, but I found the active thread. This book is a memoir: the story of how he transitioned from golf to trainee to captain. It describes his series of jobs, mainly revolving around the five boats he fished on in Kona, Hawaii, and ends when he sold his last boat, the 42-foot Merritt Black Bart.”
By Capt. Jeff Waxman
- Fishing Well Is the Best Revenge: Stories About Boats, Fishing, Friends, Captains, Oregon Inlet and Fishing the Mid-Atlantic
- Tales of Fish, Boats and the Sea
Written by a lifelong angler and boater whose history and passion for fishing defines his two colorful books of stories, Waxman began fishing the Oregon Inlet area in the early 1970s. He also owned the first hull built by Buddy Davis, which he just so happened to purchase from Capt. Buddy Cannady. His first captain? That would be Bull Tolson.
Waxman’s storybooks course with saltiness, and you are likely to both laugh out loud and imagine yourself in the bar or on the boat when and where these stories happened as you read them. He recounts all kinds of classic encounters—such as the time he unknowingly posed naked for a tour bus full of Japanese tourists in the Virgin Islands as he was filleting a wahoo on a deserted beach, removing his shorts to keep them clean.
When asked why someone might read his books, Waxman simply states: “They are fun accounts based around a lifetime of fishing, and approached like you are telling stories with a friend, sitting around the dock or the bar—and each one is true. There are no deep messages, just some stories telling how they happened.”