5 Compelling Fishing Books -Fiction And Non-Fiction

For the days when you can’t get to the honey hole, there are always good fishing books to lift your spirit and boost your motivation.

We’ve compiled a list of our favorite fiction and non-fiction books with a fishing theme that have been keeping us dreaming of tight lines:

Fishing Books

The World of Books

A River Runs Through It – by Norman Maclean (Foreword by Robert Redford)

If you haven’t read this recognizable fishing book yet, you’ve probably seen the mega-movie hit by Robert Redford, starring Brad Pitt back in early ‘90s. But if you thought the movie was ‘good enough’, we urge you to check out the book as well.

A River Runs Through It is set in Montana and takes the reader on a journey alongside the Maclean family. Norm and his brother Paul spend hours fly fishing in stunning scenery. The book is based on the author’s experiences growing up in the small towns and mountains of western Montana. Obviously, it includes the colorful characters that go with that – drunks, loggers, and card sharks!

The book will have you laughing out loud at times and choking back emotion at others. As great as the movie was, it lacks some of the emotion evoked than reading the words as they jump out at you from the pages.

This story will have you longing for simpler times when people were more connected without all the gadgets. And even if you know nothing about fishing, or fly fishing, you will fall in love with it by the end.

“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it.”

The Compleat Angler by Izaak Walton

Granted, this is a bit of a long, slow read (thanks to the 17th English). But, it is an absolute classic, written with grace and sophistication, celebrating the art and spirit of fishing.

First published in 1653, four editions were printed in the 1600s. The 1824 edition was perhaps the most renowned. It was subsequently edited by Andrew Lang in 1896.

Charles Cotton added chapters in later editions and developed the character Venator who completed his instruction in fly fishing and fly tying.

There have been many other editions but the easiest way to get a digital copy is via Kindle. One of our fishing books classics.

​The River Why by David James Duncan

The book "The River Why"

“The River Why”

Another one for the fly fishermen! Duncan is a master fishing writer but this book is much more than fly fishing. It’s about growing up and the spiritual journey that one takes along the way. It’s the beauty and wisdom of nature and love for God, family, friends and significant other.

So funny in spots that you’ll laugh out loud; and we’re willing to bet that within the first few chapters you will be reaching for your tackle box.

As The Sailor Loves The Sea by Ballard Hadman

The Sailor Loves The Sea is really the autobiographical adventure of Ms. Ballard Hadman. Ms. Hadman worked in California as an artist and movie stand-in at film studio MGM until 1938. At the same time, her brothers built a trolling boat and named the boat after her. Consequently, she insisted on being there when the boat was first launched.

She didn’t think much of the rugged Alaskan life at first. In particular the profane and colorful characters that made up the trolling fleet of the 1930s. However, she quickly became fond of the Alaskan life. So much so, that she ended up marrying fisherman James Hadman and remained in Alaska to raise a family.

Ballard’s writing creates beautiful images of the life of a fisherman in the southeastern parts of Alaska and the effect the War had on her family and community.

This is a great read for anybody who loves the sea, Alaska, fishing or the outdoors. Fishing books like this are a joy to read!

Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World by Mark Kurlansky

This book spans 1,000 years and four continents as it traces the magnificent cod. The book introduces many explorers, merchants, writers, chefs and fishermen whose lives were interwoven with this well-loved fish.

This may be the factual tale of a single species of fish, but it also takes us through its impact on world history along the way. Kurlansky tells of the “cod wars” of the 16th and 20th centuries and follows the early Europeans who sailed across the Atlantic for cod. He tells how cod sustained the Vikings during their expeditions to America. He enlightens us on the staple of salted cod which was a popular dish in medieval times, and he shares recipes and many stories too. To this day, salted cod remains a highly regarded food source for Spanish and Portugese cultures.

As we sail through the centuries, we face the devastating impact our own species has had on the population of this once mighty fish.

“Wars have been fought over it, revolutions have been triggered by it, national diets have been based on it, economies and livelihoods have depended on it. To the millions it has sustained, it has been a treasure more precious than gold.”

If you have good fishing books you’d like to recommend, we would love to hear from you.

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