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Q&A | Ryan Brod

Ryan Brod became a Maine Guide in his early 20s, after spending his childhood hunting and fishing in the Belgrade Lakes region. From guiding underdressed New Yorkers on a frozen lake to chasing a giant Florida tarpon, to finding peace outdoors during a global pandemic, Brod has seen it all in just a short amount of time.

We've asked Ryan some questions about fishing, writing, and what he hopes people take away from his book.


You are a Registered Maine Guide, an avid outdoorsman, and a creative writing professor, what’s your writing routine like? 

I don't have a particular routine, but I'm always listening and paying attention to ideas and memories that might spark stories. I write in bursts. I try to be available for the stories when they arrive. They tend to arrive more frequently when I'm active, moving, getting outside, and connecting with people.

What is your favorite species of fish to catch?

I love tarpon fishing in the keys—they are incredible animals to catch on a fly rod, and they can live to fifty or sixty years old. My favorite freshwater species at the moment is tidal carp in Merrymeeting Bay, by far the most challenging species to catch in Maine.

What advice would you give to someone who wanted to write their own essays about their love of hunting and fishing?

Stories about great outdoor personal achievements can be thrilling, yes, but all stories are about characters, about people and relationships. You run into trouble when you focus too much on the actual specifics of the fishing/hunting—How-To pieces have their place, but narratives are about people and their relationships (with each other and with places).

What do you hope readers take away from your book?

I hope my book sparks readers to optimize their time outdoors with those they love.

What is one question you’d like to be asked, and what’s the answer?

What is your biggest pitfall as a writer? I tend to revise as a write, which is dangerous. The danger of revising as you write is that you often sanitize the messy, granular details that arrive organically in the drafting phase. I try to remind my writing students, and myself, to allow a messy first draft, rather than to try to polish it as you go. Let it be messy, and have faith in the revision process.


Tributaries is a collection of contemporary outdoor essays exploring the line between passion and obsession. Written through the lens of a late-30-something, the book explores complex, evolving relationships between fathers and sons; between fishing buddies; between anglers and guides; and between outdoorspeople and the landscapes they cherish. From the pine-encroached rivers of Maine’s Aroostook County, to the turquoise flats of Florida Bay, author Ryan Brod draws unexpected parallels between places, while introducing unforgettable characters determined to follow their outdoor passions no matter the cost. Rendered in vivid detail, Tributaries examines tensions between presence and memory, illuminating fleeting yet transcendent moments.

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