Monte Burke, author of Lords of the Fly, shares his journey of becoming a renowned writer and author. Monte shares the pivotal moment that transformed his life as he recounts how his first fly fishing story caught the attention of the editor at Sporting Classics, propelling him to become a full-time writer.

Discover the dedicated tarpon fishing enthusiasts of the Homosassa club and the current challenges faced by Florida’s waters. We talk about stories of fly fishing legends like Tom Evans and Andy Mill, who pushed the sport’s boundaries. Monte also recounts his encounter with Nick Saban, one of college football’s greatest coaches, resulting in a historic feature in Forbes Magazine. We dig into Monte’s other books, including Leaper, Sowbelly, and 4th & Goal, and get a preview of his upcoming book on the Southwest’s water crisis.

We talk a lot about writing and noted some great authors such as John Gierach and Thomas McGuane, and the fascinating intersection of passion, storytelling, and fly fishing.

Lords of the Fly with Monte Burke. Hit play below! 👇🏻

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(Read the Full Transcript at the bottom of this Blog Post)


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lords of the fly

Show Notes with Monte Burke on Lords of the Fly

03:00 – We noted his book, Lords of the Fly: Madness, Obsession, and the Hunt for the World Record Tarpon – stories about tarpon fly fishing legends.

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03:45 – We had John Gierach on the podcast in episode 047 who’s one of the best fly fishing writers.

04:00 – Most of the males in Monte’s family fly-fished – his grandfather, his uncle, and his dad. Monte caught his first Atlantic salmon with his uncle on Margaree River in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.

08:30 – Monte tells the story of when he wrote his first fly fishing story about Ed Shenk from LeTort Spring Run that he sent to different magazine companies. He then got a letter from the Editor of Sporting Classics, Chuck Wexler offering to buy his story for $200. That was his turning point from going to business school to being a fly fishing writer.

lords of the fly
Image courtesy PA Fly Fishing Museum

10:25 – Topher Browne mentioned Monte on a recent episode at WFS 464.

12:00 – Monte also did a story about Andy Mill who’s like a Tigerwoods of Tarpon fly fishing tournament. Andy was on the podcast in episode 330. Andy gave him Tom Evan’s number so he could write a story about him. He also noted names of the world’s best fly anglers in the 70s and 80s.


lords of the fly

19:20 – We talk about how Florida is being ruined nowadays and gets worst each year.

Photo Courtesy of Captains for Clean Water

21:10 – We noted Bonefish & Tarpon Trust are doing a great job in researching about the problems in the waters of Florida. Captains For Clean Waters are also fighting hard for Florida waters conservation. And also VoteWater Florida.

24:30 – Monte talks about the rockstars of the Homosassa club who were obsessed with tarpon fishing and made it possible for future generations to catch tarpon.

30:23 – The biggest tarpon ever caught was over 200 pounds on a 20-pound test which was caught by a non-regular guy who was just fishing with his dad. Tom Evans holds the record for the 16-pound test which was 190-pound tarpon. He also holds the record for the 12-pound which was 194-pound tarpon.

lords of the fly
Photo Courtesy of

44:30 – We talk about Nick Saban who’s arguably the best college football of all time.

Wade Payne/AP Photo via Sport Illustrated

46:30 – Monte tells the story of when he got a phone call from Nick Saban agreeing to write a story about him. The story was then published in Forbes Magazine (2008) which also became the highest single issue of the magazine ever. Read that story here.

49:20 – Monte talks about his process of writing.

54:25 – We dig into his book, The Making of a Coach which was a story about Nick Saban’s life and incredible coaching career.

nick saban

54:45 – Monte talks about his book, Leaper: The Wonderful World of Atlantic Salmon Fishing, which was a collection of Atlantic salmon stories.

55:15 – Monte did another fishing book called, Sowbelly: The Obsessive Quest for the World-Record Largemouth Bass.

55:50 – We also noted his book, 4th & Goal: One Man’s Quest to Recapture His Dream which was about Joe Moglia’s legendary career transition from head football coach at Coastal Carolina University to the CEO of TD Ameritrade

56:55 – Monte is writing a new book about the water crisis in South West looking through the lens of Lake Mead.

58:30 – We talk about what makes John Gierach a great writer. Monte says “he’s a great lyricist” and explains why.

59:45 – We also noted Thomas McGuane. Monte tells us what makes McGuane’s writing special.

lords of the fly
Photo courtesy of Catskill Fly Fishing Center & Museum

1:03:30 – Monte tells the story of when he went to Labrador with Yvon Chouinard and other anglers.

1:07:30 – I asked Monte the question “Are you a writer or a fly fisherman first?”.

You can check out Monte’s work at


Related Podcast Episodes

WFS 330 – Andy Mill on the Mill House Podcast, Tarpon and Olympic Skiing

WFS 047 – John Gierach Podcast Interview – Hippies, High Mt Stream Fly Fishing, Weed and Alaska


Read the Full Podcast Transcript Below

Conclusion with Monte Burke on Lords of the Fly

In conclusion, Monte Burke’s journey as a renowned writer and author teaches us the power of passion, seizing opportunities, and pushing boundaries. His first fly fishing story propelled his career, reminding us that one moment can change our lives. The rockstars of the Homosassa club and fly fishing legends like Tom Evans and Andy Mill inspire us to pursue excellence and leave a lasting legacy.

Monte’s encounters with Nick Saban and his insights into writing and renowned authors highlight the importance of seizing unexpected opportunities and the power of storytelling. The challenges facing Florida’s waters emphasize the need for environmental conservation, and organizations like Bonefish & Tarpon Trust and Captains for Clean Waters show the significance of collective efforts. Ultimately, Monte’s journey showcases the intersection of passion, storytelling, and fly fishing, reminding us to embrace our passions and make a positive impact on the world.