Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Armchair angling

It's been a fortnight now since I last trod the banks of lake or canal with angling intent, a sorry state of affairs caused by a busy period at work and a number of family commitments. However, I have promised my son a perch fishing trip next week, so there is an end in sight to my current piscatorial inactivity.
My solace has been "armchair angling" (although even that has been metaphorical rather than literal, as there's been no time to sit in an armchair, and all the reading done has taken place late at night in bed with a dim reading lamp designed not to wake my sensibly sleeping wife).
Fortunately I have a reasonably extensive angling library, and- being an inveterate list maker- have decided to catalogue here my top 5 fishing books, so from 5 to 1, here they are:

(5) "Somewhere else" by Charles Rangely-Wilson; a wonderful, eclectic collection of fishing essays, well-written, evocative and catholic in the range of subjects covered: travel angling, pike, trout and even tope.
(4) "Trout at 10 000 feet" by John Bailey; similar to the above, but with none of the crude turn of phrase that occasionally unecessarily finds its way into Rangely-Wilson's writing. As much a travelogue as angling book, John Bailey taps into the adventurer that hides within all of us, and leaves us envying his global angling experiences.
(3) "Confessions of a carp fisher" by BB; a classic about carp angling that's outdated in every way except for the masterful manner in which it captures the very heart and spirit of what compels us to pick up rod and line. Illustrated by the author's own scraperboard art, a book that thoroughly deserves its enduring fame.
(2) "Death, taxes and leaky waders" by John Gierach; as only a very occasional (and terrifyingly inept) fly fisherman it's testament to Gierach's incredible prose that this book comes in at number two in my all-time favourites list. The book always gives rise within me not only to a yearning to fish, but also a more general yearning for the outdoors itself, and this is a part of its genius. Blessed with a witty turn of phrase reminiscent of Bill Bryson at his best, Gierach's short essays bear constant re-reading, so well are they crafted.
(1) ....... and my overall favourite is: ............ "How to fish" by Chris Yates. No other contemporary author compares with Yates for his ability to pen words that remind us of what it is we love about our chosen hobby. This book, while in many ways a collection of musings on life and an anthology of random thoughts, is ostensibly about the pursuit of my favourite freshwater fish, the enigmatic perch. If I could only take one angling book with me to the ubiquitous desert island, this would be the book.

So, there it is: my personal top five.
There are some great books that narrowly missed out (including Walton's "hallowed tome") and others such as Tom O Reilley's "The Spirit of the pond", Robin Armstrong's beautifully illustrated "Dartmoor River" and a couple of lovely American coffee table books that I regularly peruse: George Kramer's "Bass fishing: an American tradition" and an anthology called "Ode to bass and trout" edited by Alan James Robinson.
.... and here's the best bit: in less than a week I'll be swapping the books for a rod and line, and accompanied by my son I'll be "gone fishin'", but until then I will be (in the words of the song) "just a wishin' " ............ and reading.


  1. I just wanted to say how mush I am enjoying reding your blog. I may not post often but am keeping up on your adventures. Keep up the good work.

  2. Thanks for the encouragement- the stats tell me that there's quite a readership from the States, which is great. Hopefully I'll have something worthwhile to report after my trip with my son this week .... guess what lures I'm gonna try out?