Riverside Reading

Reading by river

Wise words on the riverbanks.

The summer days might be long, but it’s the rare soul that can fish for 14 hours straight. The rest of us need an occasional breather—and what better way to take a break than with a fishing book? The following is a collection of four books that deserve a spot in every trout angler’s vehicle. They might not all be set in Montana, but the lessons learned and main takeaways are equally as relevant on the Yellowstone as they are in some remote crevice of the world. Grab a copy of each and get reading.

Death, Taxes, and Leaky Waders
John Gierach has a whole handful of fishing books, but this classic is a great place to dive in. The book is actually an anthology of short stories, set all across North America. Gierach has an astute sense for what makes a good fish story—rarely is it the fish, or the location, or what actually happened. It’s all in the people, the setup, and the circumstances. Gierach’s stories are funny, relatable, and inspiring, no matter the setting.

The River Why
This “fishing” book, by David James Duncan, is set on a fictional coastal Oregon steelhead river, but it’s really not about fishing at all. Seeking refuge from his family in a remote cabin nestled beside the Tamanawis River, the main character, Gus, comes to terms with the meaning of life—but only after meeting his true love dangling in a tree above the river.

A River Runs Through It
You’ve likely seen the film, but before it hit the big screen, this story by Normal Maclean was transcribed in book form. In a story about family relationships, religion, and the water, Maclean beautifully ties together a handful of relatable threads, all centering around the pursuit of trout. This is the perfect book to read while sitting on the banks of the Gallatin waiting for an evening hatch.

The Longest Silence
This book of essays by Thomas McGuane seeks to tease explicit meaning from the water, the people, and the places the author has encountered during a lifetime of fishing—which makes for a moving read. But through all his experiences, know that McGuane has chosen to call Montana home for nearly his entire life. Now that’s saying something. You’ll understand why after reading this book.