Archive | BOOK REVIEWS

Osprey

The Osprey Specimen Group by Various

(Calm Productions, 2014) Simon King was the records officer for a group of anglers called the Osprey Specimen Group. He was working on this book to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the group when he was diagnosed with cancer, which sadly proved terminal. With Bob Hornegold at the helm, the group and friends completed this […]

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PeterStone

Old Father Thames by Peter Stone

(The Medlar Press, 1997) Born in Oxford in 1927, Peter Stone grew up in the nearby village of Wolvercote and from an early age was enamoured with his rural surroundings and the nearby Thames that flowed into his childhood and throughout his life, a love affair that continued until his death at 73 in 2000. […]

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PetleyLove

Love Madness Fishing by Dexter Petley

(Little Toller, 2016) “To be an angler is to accept the rigours of the dreamer in dystopia. The end is disillusion, the beginning is worth it.” Dexter Petley was born in Hawkhurst in the Weald of Kent in the bleak, post-war Britain of 1955, where his council estate home and a fractured demobbed generation provide […]

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KevParrRIvers

Rivers Run by Kevin Parr

(RiderBooks, Penguin Random House, 2016) We first meet the author on a deserted beach, waiting for mackerel: “Circumstance and illness have led my wife, Sue, and me into a life of rural simplicity… If I catch a fish or two this afternoon then they will be eaten for supper. Should I fail, we will not […]

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HaskellReeling

Reeling in the Years by Harry Haskell

(Freebird Publishing, 2013) The name Harry Haskell has always been familiar to me, his magazine articles from the 80s embedded into my psyche. Perhaps he was not as well known as some anglers, but he was certainly influential. This autobiography came to my attention after hearing the sad news that Haskell had passed away in […]

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Hills

Trout from the Hills by Ian Niall

(Cassell Illustrated, 1991) With over 30 books to his name, amongst them evocative, pastoral titles such as The Poacher’s Handbook, Fresh Woods and The Idler’s Companion, it would seem wholly natural that somewhere, within the bibliography of John Kincaid McNeillie, there would be a work dedicated to angling. Published in 1961 and written under the […]

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FlyFisher

The Fly Fisher: The Essence and Essentials of Fly Fishing Edited by Thorsten Strüben and Jan Blumentritt

(Gestalten, 2017) The Fly Fisher is a reflection on what is happening in the magazine publishing world, with a move towards a design-based aesthetic. Its roots clearly lie in magazine design, but as 250-page hardback, this is clearly not a throwaway monthly, but a coffee table book that accommodates a digestible format, a book to […]

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Ransome

Rod & Line by Arthur Ransome

(Jonathan Cape, 1929) I had a hunch that Arthur Ransome might have been an angler as I read Swallows and Amazons for the first time. Amid all that needless sailing and knickerbocker breaking were a few moments of sanity, as the characters did what all normal people do when holidaying beside water, and fished. My […]

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Cukllen

Caught Between Two Worlds by Christoper Cullen

(The Little Egret Press, 2014) Even the biggest fan of the 1960s television series Prisoner may have missed Number Six’s declaration of what he is going to do once he gains his freedom from the British intelligence agency. “Fishing,” he responded in his characteristic abrupt manner as though the fact the word is interchangeable with […]

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WMHill

Fishing Personally. By W.M. Hill

(A & C Black, 1986) This book was recommended to me by somebody I had never met. A simple email was all it took to open my eyes to the writings of W.M. Hill who has “fished every ‘puddle, pond, lake, drain, pit, canal, stream and ditch’ he came across in the past 35 years.” […]

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JohnANdrews

For All Those Left Behind. By John Andrews

(Mainstream Publishing Company, 2005) It is rare that a memoir which is so deeply personal can remain a fishing book at heart, but this book does because it reminds us that the bond of angling can be complicated, special and unparalleled. The fourth child of an Anglo-Irish family, John’s career as a record executive for […]

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JonBerry

Beneath the Black Water by Jon Berry

(The History Press, 2011). As the title may suggest, there is a darker side to this book. I was at first shaken by the honesty and detail of the author’s life. You are immediately introduced to his failing relationship, a thread that continues for a while, as his sudden infatuation for a forgotten fish-—the ferrox […]

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GoneFishing-Nathan

Gone Fishing. By William Nathan

(Little Egret Press, 2014) Isn’t it lovely when you enjoy reading angling adventures for the pure joy conveyed by a skilled writer? Nathan is a man after my own heart. Like most anglers, his catches are largely  unremarkable; what makes them stand out is the way in which he sees the world, and puts that […]

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Falkus

Hugh Falkus: A Life on the Edge. By Chris Newton

(Medlar Press, 2007) One overcast day in April 1996, a flock of migrating greylags appeared from the Esk estuary and momentarily circled high above a congregation of people, returning back down the valley with a familiar ‘hink, honk’ cry. The group below gathered around a freshly laid sandstone slab which read ‘Hugh Falkus 30/3/96’, engraved […]

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BloodKnots

Blood Knots by Luke Jennings

(Atlantic Books, 2007) Blood Knots is a memoir of the writer’s fishing life and the influential characters that stitch it together. But what a life. From his early days under the careful eye of his father—a decorated British army officer who was badly burnt in a tank battle in Holland in WWII (but who did […]

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Garnett

Tangles with pike by Dominic Garnett

(DG Fishing, 2014) Publishing a book can be terrifying. Your words are forever in print for all to see and criticise. It can feel like you’re being fed to the lions. As a self-published book, this stares into the toothy maw of publishing and laughs. Do you know as much about angling and can write […]

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Pearson

Fisherman by Anthony Pearson

(Pelham Books, 1970) It is the Congo in 1960. A man called Jack Allan dies after being strafed across the chest by machine gun fire. Pearson grips us immediately; guns, mercenaries, Africa, elephant hunting, hard drinking bound together by the thread of fishing, especially for billfish—sailfish, swordfish and marlin—the harsh but thrilling environment of a […]

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riverhabitats_august_slider

River Habitats for Coarse Fish by Mark Everard

(Old Pond Publishing, 2015) By Theo Pike In these days when all the funky river menders are talking about catchment-scale processes, natural flood management, and even rewilding with beavers, it’s feeling rather rare to find a book that’s just about fish. More to the point, it’s even rarer to find a book that’s just about […]

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