Cast, Catch, Release: A Review

The book details author Marina Gibson’s journey “finding serenity and purpose through fly fishing,” from wandering youth to the head of her own fly fishing school.
Catch, Cast, Release by Marina Gibson
Catch, Cast, Release by Marina Gibson will be on sale June 4, 2024. Joe Albanese

Catch, Cast, Release follows Marina Gibson’s obsession with fishing from her earliest days plodding along the river with her mother to her current role as the head of her own fly fishing school. Along the way, we follow her as she sheds the trappings of city life for a more fulfilling life on the water, fly rod in hand.

Like so many in their early twenties, Marina found her life lacking direction. She was living in London, carrying on as many of that age do. But she found that lifestyle lacking, and she needed a change. That change would come in the form of a 21st birthday gift from her parents. Given the choice between a fly rod and jewelry, she chose the fly rod and rekindled the love she had for angling as a child. This thoughtful gift kicked off an epic adventure.

Soon, Gibson found herself completely immersed in fly angling. She takes this calling with her across continents and through a few serious relationships, finding peace in fishing when things start to go sour. As her marriage failed, she found solace in the rhythms of fly casting. She found sanctuary in rivers. She hit the road in pursuit of the next big fish.

Gibson does an excellent job comparing the ups and downs of her life with the struggles faced by salmon on their journey home. She uses this metaphor to illustrate the hardships that she, and so many others, experience. Her writing draws careful parallels, without it being over the top. The text is descriptive without being flowery; an easy read for those looking to share in the adventure or figuratively escape their commute home.

If you came here for angling action, you won’t be disappointed. Gibson has traversed the globe in pursuit of some of the most exotic fish that swim, such as bumphead parrot fish off the Farquhar Atoll, golden dorado in the jungles of South America, and giant salmonids in Iceland’s wilds. In addition to the ever-present salmon in this book, she also covers permit, redfish, bonefish, and plenty more in salt and fresh.

Angler Extraordinaire

Gibson’s angling resume is impressive. She is a certified Fly Fishers International Casting Instructor, which in and of itself is an accomplishment. But Gibson’s skills go far beyond her casting abilities, having pursued a variety of species across the globe, including the saltwater brutes that frequent the Seychelles and the golden dorado of South America’s jungles. Of course, she can swing a Spey rod with the best of them on Europe’s toughest rivers.

Gibson has made quite the career of her angling prowess, serving as a brand ambassador for such companies as Orvis and YETI. She has guided trips for a variety of species across several continents. Time will tell, but I would wager that Gibson will continue to host trips all over the globe.

She founded the Northern Fishing School at Swinton Estate in North Yorkshire in 2019, teaching over 400 people a year how to cast, mend, and everything else involved in catching fish on the fly. And at the beginning of 2024, she fulfilled a lifelong dream by taking over the lease of Bywell beat on the River Tyne.

Gibson is also a passionate conservationist, using her substantial social media presence to address environmental issues, including but not limited to those faced by Atlantic salmon. She serves as ambassador for the Atlantic Salmon Trust and the Angling Trust, as well as a trustee for River Action UK, which combats water pollution in the United Kingdom. And as co-founder of the Cancer and Pisces Trust charity, she helps cancer sufferers find peace through fly fishing.

Final Thoughts

Catch, Cast, Release is a wonderful tale of one woman’s love affair with fly fishing, initiated by her mother on the banks of a salmon river. She turned that love into a lifelong adventure, fly rod in hand. Along the way, she used the mindfulness afforded by the rhythmic casting to ease her through life’s rough patches. Available on June 4.