Tideline: Bill Curtis

Tideline“Our friends had told us we should start this book project with Bill Curtis. They said most of what we would see in the coming months had been, at least in part, created, improvised, explained, or experienced by Curtis. He is, by unanimous account, one of the fathers of saltwater flats fishing, and one of the last living legends of this game.”

That’s how Kirk Deeter and Andrew Steketee–newcomers to saltwater when they co-authored Tideline: Captains, Fly-Fishing and the American Coast in 2004 — introduced flats guiding legend Bill Curtis.  Tideline is, in my mind, a true sleeper, worthy of any saltwater angler’s bookshelf, and a book that you’ll come back to more than once, not only because of the luminous photography by Marco Lorenzetti, but because the essays have an objectivity that can only come from authors who were looking at the sport mostly from the outside in.  Unfortunately the book is often in short supply and might go out of print, as did the authors’ other book, Castwork.  I’d suggest snapping one up if you get the chance.

Meanwhile, here’s a bit more from the MidCurrent excerpt:

“WE LAUNCH from the outside ramp and run past Palm and Cormorant Keys into the northern reaches of Florida Bay, then Bill sets up in a channel near a mangrove island swarming with roseate spoonbills. He wants to see if we can fish before he starts talking. It seems we are on the spit to start out, as he begins to interview us with rods, not words. As he eloquently explains, “There’s chicken salad and chicken shit, and you can’t make chicken salad out of chicken shit.”

We find a mixed bag of small jacks, spotted seatrout, ladyfish, and pompano, throwing gaudy, rattling ‘Cajun Thunders’ and shrimp-tipped jigs into the channel with spinning rods. In doing so, we extract some of Bill’s basic history. He tells us he is from eastern Oklahoma, and learned to fish in New Mexico in 1934, throwing Adams flies with split-cane rods on the San Juan River under the guidance of his uncle. He even held the world record for rainbow trout on six-pound tippet for a fish he caught up in Alaska, but could care less, when we ask, about its length and weight.”