Sybil Smith arrived in the Twin Cities in the mid-1970s, and to her delight the fishing enthusiast found hundreds of places to cast a line.
There were so many lakes that "I didn't know where to start," Smith said. "I thought, 'I'll go find out.' "
Smith spent a few years in the offices of the Department of Natural Resources, poring over their files and talking with experts about the importance of using food, security and comfort when picking a fishing spot.
She turned her findings into the "Twin Cities Fishing Guide, Where the Experts Fish and How," a publication that has sold more than 150,000 copies and is now in its fourth revision. The book is the basis for a presentation she will give Tuesday at the Stafford Library in Woodbury and May 24 at Century College in White Bear Lake.
"I thought, 'If I have questions, everybody else does, too,' " said Smith, of Roseville. "They [the DNR] taught me a lot about fish biology, and that goes a long way to when, where and how to catch fish."
Her initial guide, which includes write-ups on more than 100 lakes in the seven-county metro area and Chisago County, was met by a few furrowed eyebrows when it debuted in 1993. Many found it strange that a woman would write a book about fishing, said Smith, who recalled a bit of resistance she got when trying to place an advertisement in a Twin Cities newspaper by phone.
"The woman said she had to see the book first," Smith said. "I thought, 'Did she think I was producing porn?' After she saw the book, she apologized and said, 'We don't see many women writing fishing books.' "
Smith lists everything from where to find public access, good fishing docks and piers, to which side of a lake to try to find specific species and when.
Her summaries also include information about the clarity of the water and "tailor specific information" about each lake. She covers how factors such as weather, water depth and temperature, food supply and noise play a role too.
Each lake's entry also features a map that shows the location of rocks, sunken islands, brush and back waterways.
"You have to think why a fish would be in the spot you are fishing," said Smith. "Unless you fish them wisely, it won't matter."
Smith also has authored a second book, "The Brainerd/Mille Lacs Fishing Guide." That book has been out of print for several years, but Smith said she plans to post it online this summer. And she has put together guides for anglers who prefer to stay on land, "Twin Cities Shore Fishing Guide," with versions for both the east- and west-metro areas.
Along with fishing tips, Smith will teach participants at Tuesday's free class how to choose the best lures and make a slip-bobber rig, jig worm and a weedless plastic worm.
"I hope to get people hooked on fishing," said Smith, who as a little girl learned the pastime from her father. "That is not happening as much anymore due to video games, smartphones and texting."
Tim Harlow 651-925-5039 Twitter: @timstrib