Book Review: Fifty Women Who Fish

Steve Kantner's new book entertains and informs
Angler Claire Carter King
Angler Claire Carter King (photo: Wild River Press).

More women than ever are fishing. That much is a given. No one knows exactly why one in four anglers have the XX chromosome or why nearly 40 percent of new anglers are female. Fact is, men now share the water with women.

South Florida author Steve Kantner capitalized on this trend with his latest book, Fifty Women Who Fish, a series of profiles of the most prominent women who can fling a fly or lure with the best of the best.

Although most of the featured anglers have significant fly-fishing experience, Kantner plucked his subjects from a variety of backgrounds — offshore and inshore; fly and conventional; and young and old.

Fifty Women Who Fish (314 pages, Wild River Press), published this spring, is Kantner’s fourth book. His latest two works —The Ultimate Guide to Fishing South Florida on Foot and Backcountry Flies: Tying and Fishing Florida Patterns, From Swamp to Surf.

His first two efforts were informative, but formulaic, how to fish and how to tie the flies you need to fish much of South Florida, and since Kantner, guided the Miami on foot and from a canoe for decades before embarking on a book-writing career in semiretirement, he was able to rely on his wealth of local knowledge for content.

Fifty Women, by contrast, was a tremendous undertaking. A labor of love? Not exactly. It took Kantner 27 months to research, write, edit and publish the hardback, coffee table book, a grind that left him exhausted.

The profiles average approximately 2,000 words and are accompanied by multiple photos. Not all of the interviews were done in person, but all required a minimum three or four lengthy phone interviews as well as tedious fact checking and revising.

Fifty Women Who Fish

Below are a handful of featured anglers:

  • Former Miami-Herald outdoor writer Sue Cocking, who bagged a world-record 29-pound permit on fly.
  • IGFA Hall of Fame Inductee Deborah Dunaway, who discusses her passion for big-game fishing and white-tail deer.
  • Casting instructor and Guide Sara Gardner, who overcame back surgery and still chases cobia off the North Carolina coast.
  • Meredith McCord, who has traveled the globe in the process of setting 152 IGFA world records.
  • Long-time guide Lori-Ann Murphy, who taught Kevin Bacon and Meryl Streep to fly fish while they prepped for their roles in the movie, The River Wild.
  • DUN Magazine editor Jen Ripple, who defied convention — and the skeptics — by starting the first women’s fly-fishing lifestyle publication.
  • TV personality April Vokey, the queen of catching steelhead on fly.
  • The First Lady of Fly Fishing, Joan Wulff, who caught a 100-pound tarpon on fly at age 77.

Women have long been underappreciated in the world of fishing. Let’s be honest. For years, it’s been a man’s sport. That’s clearly no longer the case, Kantner, to his credit, recognized this seismic shift and cobbled together a worth-while book, a book that both women and men can enjoy.