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Caught in the ethics of angling

by Mark Spitzer






MARK SPITZER , reformed monster-fish angler, is the author of thirty-plus books, including Season of the Gar (University of Arkansas Press), Return of the Gar (University of North Texas Press), Beautifully Grotesque Fish of the American West (University of Nebraska Press), and In Search of Monster Fish (University of Nebraska Press). He has appeared on the Animal Planet series River Monsters and has consulted for National Geographic’s Monster Fish show. Spitzer is currently a professor of creative writing at the University of Central Arkansas who specializes in poetry. He is also editor in chief of the cutting-edge poetry series Toad Suck Editions, an imprint of MadHat Press. He lives part-time in New York’s Mid-Hudson River Valley where he hikes the mountain trails hunting salamanders and wild mushrooms with his dog.


An investigation into the bioethics of fish pain and suffering leads to a lifestyle-changing discovery for monster-fisher Mark Spitzer. Monster Fishing: Caught in the Ethics of Angling is a bestiary of gar, sharks, ratfish, buffalo, carp, pike, gaspergou, and the human spirit fighting to preserve a planet in distress. After fifty years of fishing waters worldwide, extreme angler Mark Spitzer takes a hard look at his impact on monster fish and their environments. Through action-packed adventures exploring both familiar and foreign waters during a deadly global pandemic, this deep dive into the neurobiology of fish suffering and stress invites a new way of seeing aquatic species and holding ourselves accountable for the health of our shared planet.

July 2023 | Nonfiction | 9781948814775 | 240 pp |$19.95 

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“Monster Fishing is a culmination of Mark Spitzer’s full-bodied and brilliant career. Always wild, and wildly prolific, he writes sentences that are alive, spilling over with energy, electricity, occasional ecstasy, and always, raw fun. . . . the art of monster fishing is also a metaphor for a certain kind of life, a vital and elemental life close to the currents of nature, a life beyond the merely human, a life that is no mere trudge from birth to death but an embrace of this joyous and wild world and all it offers.”

DAVID GESSNER, author of All the Wild that Remains

Spitzer is a unique voice in angling literature, and this is a highly readable and provocative narrative. It is at times poignant and at times laugh-out-loud funny. Spitzer’s Gonzo storytelling works for the subject matter, bringing readers along on some epically unusual fish quests . . . . The surprise ending was quite powerful and literally kept me awake pondering big issues . . . . this is a first-rate fishing book.”

MATTHEW MILLER, author of Fishing Through the Apocalypse

“No one has done more to raise concern [for gar] than . . .  Mark Spitzer . . .  Spitzer has produced two highly readable books on gars and their interaction with humans . . . His efforts have resulted in state efforts to protect the gar.”

TOM DILLARD, Arkansas Democrat Gazette

“[Mark Spitzer is] a walking encyclopedia on all things gar as well as a tireless champion of this ‘very despised, hated fish’ . . . . a unique zoological relic that is worthy of our protection.”

JEREMY WADE, River Monsters


“I deeply respect where Mark Spitzer is coming from about catching, harassing, and killing fish. He is one of the few enlightened anglers (former anglers?) who has the courage, decency, mind, and soul to take on this issue.”

HENRY HUGHES, author of Back Seat with Fish and editor of various Everyman Pocket Classics on fish and fishing


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