I had heard and read that Stu Apte was a pilot, first for the Navy and then for the old Pan American airlines, and when I interviewed him for a Midcurrent.com article about the late George Hommell, I remember thinking, “That’s the kind of voice I’d want to hear over the intercom at 35,000 feet.”
He sounded confident and direct over the phone, with a hint of military cadence, and when he started telling stories about his pioneering fishing experiences in the Florida Keys, I just shut up and listened.
That’s the same way I felt reading through Apte’s new book My Life In Fishing, ($29.95, Stone Fly Press). It’s a collection of 38 short essays where Apte tells anecdotes collected during his life chasing fish.
There are stories of Apte fishing for snook with Ted Williams, traveling to Costa Rica with Curt Gowdy, and hosting the ex-president Harry S. Truman on a bonefishing trip that also involved the former first lady, a full bladder and an open livewell lid.
There’s the story of a chance encounter with Ernest Hemingway in Cuba that led to mojitos, of being pulled into the water by Joe Brooks’ record tarpon, of wade fishing for largemouth bass in the Everglades….The whole collection is fun to read.
The best thing about the book is the brevity of each individual story. You could imagine Apte in his guiding days, entertaining clients with such stories while poling around for a shot at a big tarpon.
On that note, I always love hearing the stories of these early anglers figuring out the tackle and techniques to land big silver on a fly rod . In one chapter, highlighted in a pull quote, Apte says, “I am never happier than when I’m prospecting the Florida Keys flats for tarpon, fly rod in hand.”
Although I must admit when I read that quote it reminded me of an episode of Andy Mill’s “Sportsman’s Journal” show from the old Outdoor Life Network. I remember Apte fighting a tarpon from the bow of the boat and Mill asking something along the lines of, “Is there any better feeling in the world?”
“Yes,” Apte deadpanned. “Sex.”
You could say Apte was right on both counts.