Fish On, Fish Off is the angling version of Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods. Through a series of nearly 50 personal essays, the author explores what happens when the self-taught, DIY angler sets out to fish the world – and winds up stumbling into every possible pitfall and danger along the way. These include: getting chased from a river by an elephant, surviving a terrifying helicopter ride over the Straits of Magellan, and breaking his only rod on the second cast in Cuba’s Bay of Pigs.
Closer to home, he is swept off a jetty on Block Island by a rogue wave, winds up in an emergency room more than once with fishing lures hanging from various parts of his anatomy, and perhaps most daunting, surviving 30 years of the scrum better known as opening day of trout season in his crowded home state of New Jersey.
If Upriver and Downstream showed the poetry of angling, Fish On, Fish Off shows the scars.
Ever since he saw his older brother lose an enormous summer flounder off a dock at the New Jersey Shore when he was 12 years old, Stephen Sautner has been trying to catch fish. Any fish. This has led him to the Falkland Islands where he cast for sea trout next to an active mine field, to the Zambezi River where three-ton elephants guarded pools filled with tiger fish and Nile crocodiles. In 2007, he edited Upriver and Downstream, an anthology of fishing stories from the "Outdoors" column of The New York Times, and has been an active contributor to the column since 1994. His stories have also appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Fly Rod & Reel, Wildlife Conservation, and Underwater Naturalist.
Along with Sautner’s 15 years of contributing to the NY Times, he is also the director of communications for the Wildlife Conservation Society at the Bronx Zoo, where he publicizes the Society’s conservation programs.