Chris Santella thought he’d reached the summit when he published “Fifty Places to Fly Fish Before You Die” way back in 2004.
But live long enough – not to mention suffer from a fly angler’s itch for new places, new fish and new experiences – and a mere 50 places just might not be enough.
Maybe 50 more? Santella thought so, which brings us to “Fifty More Places to Fly Fish Before You Die.” Santella’s sequel to the first 50 again offers readers sketches of some of the world’s best, most remote and glossiest fly fishing locations and experiences.
You’ll get golden dorado in Bolivia, trout and salmon in Alaska, Atlantic salmon in Iceland and even redfish in Texas. The fish and the geography are so diverse, so far flung, that Santella hasn’t even made all the trips himself.
“I’ve probably done 65 or 70 of them now,” he says, talking by phone from his home in Portland, Oregon.
Santella has written a number of books on everything from paddling to golf and fishing, but he writes most about his pursuit of fly fishing. He will be in Austin Saturday at Book People, 603 N. Lamar, to talk about “The Inspiration of Fly Fishing,” which is based on his newest book, “Why I Fly Fish.” The program starts at 5 p.m.
Self-taught at fly fishing, Santella, 50, grew up in Connecticut, where he was fascinated by a magazine story and illustration of the perfect fly cast. Before he could drive, his mother would take him to local streams where he finally fooled a fish or two into taking a questionably presented fly. He was hooked.
“The elegance of that captured my imagination,” Santella says. And he tries to let his writing about fly fishing convey that same feeling. “I try to capture the passion of fly fishing, the motivation and inspirations for fly fishing.”
There has to be a passion for the sport for it to make much sense to the average angler. Lots of people try it once or twice and lose themselves in the technical aspects of rod and line and leader and fly. And while the cast, or some facsimile of a decent cast, is essential, it’s the mental and spiritual parts of fly fishing that draw humans to it.
There’s a certain oneness with nature, with the water and the fish, with the artificial flies and the actual insects that inspired them. Santella says it’s the opportunity simply to be in the natural world that drew him to fly fishing and keeps him there in a kind of protective cover.
“You have to be so immersed in what you’re doing that the rest of the world kind of goes away,” Santella says. “You have to concentrate on the moment so that you don’t have time for other things.”
Santella says he tries to find guides and anglers with the same passion for fly fishing and to probe their minds for what that means to them and for directions to the places that are special to them. His two “50 Places…” books are based on that formula: “here’s what I like and you’ll probably like it too.”
“The whole notion of what I do is I talk to people who make their living around what I’m writing about. They talk about the places that are special to them, not necessarily the places that are the best (to fish),” Santella says.
Santella says he’s also interested in people who can make fly fishing more accessible to anglers who may be looking for ways to enhance their own experience, possibly to get away a little from the push and shove of traditional fishing and into places where the experience and the scenery become a part of the fabric as much as the number of fish in the box.
In his latest “50 Places…” book, Santella included two places on the Texas coast: Port O’Connor where he fished with Kevin Townshed and the Laguna Madre at South Padre Island, where he fished with Eric Glass. In the Hill Country, he focused on the San Marcos and South Llano rivers and Guides of Texas pros Johnny Quiroz and Marcus Rodriguez.