Where in the West Is Mark Spitzer?

Mark Spitzer loves fish and he loves to fish. As a nationally known author (Seasons of the Gar, Return of the Gar), writing about fish and their issues is what he does best. In this blog series, Spitzer shares his experiences traveling the American West while researching a select number of freshwater fish that are often considered monstrous or freaky or hideously grotesque. Don’t miss the full version of this incredible tale, which can be found in Beautifully Grotesque Fish of the American West (heading downstream in 2017).


Catching and releasing this mongo white sturgeon in Idaho was definitely one of the most satisfying highlights of my obsessive fishing existence, and at eight-foot-one and 250 pounds, I can honestly say that this is the hugest fish I’ve ever landed in my life. The Snake River, however, produced two more enormous sturgeon that day; one measuring six-foot-nine, 130 pounds, and the other, a “community effort,” was a seven-footer weighing 180 pounds.

But that’s not all. I also caught a gorgeous lunker four-pound smallmouth while fishing for bait, and saw wild sheep and their lambs grazing on the jutting green-gold slopes of one of our most dramatic desert terrains.

My point being: This is just one of many truly unique fisheries out in the American West. It’s one that’s still wild, surprising, colorful, and bursting with life. But they aren’t just fisheries. The “beautiful grotesques” which we are currently striving to preserve are a major part of our national identity, and we’d be fools to let them just slip away.

Ultimately, that’s what this book is about: the creative solutions we’re applying to conserve the most fantastic aspects of our natural heritage, and the tactics that are paying off in the name of Biodiversity, which is the most important thing we’ve got!

Why? That’s a question I’ve been asking for decades without a satisfactory answer. But that hundred-year-old sturgeon I met in Hell’s Canyon eventually revealed the answer to me, which (cliffhanger alert!) will be published in the conclusion of the book.

-Mark Spitzer

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