Currently there appears to be a trend for publishers to fill the market with angling liturature written by anglers who like to tread in the hallowed steps of anglers/writers like Yates, Walker, Venables etc etc. These books on first inspection can be beautifully produced, normally with some very fine photography and illustrations but when one starts to read these books I get bored very quickly. These fishy tales seems to come from a very familiar yarn of searching for lost ponds and time spent pouring tea and eating cake while slagging off the ‘bivvy brigade’ (an easy target if there was ever one to have a go at!) and talk of a bygone era that has never been experienced first hand, these books never seem to have a direction they just meander just like the rivers they fish. Also these authors tend to run out of steam quite quickly so the final few chapters have the presence of the publishers cracking the whip to get the book finished in time for the ‘launch’ so a moribund account of angling tales conclude these titles. Then you have the launch, men queueing up to a get as many limited editions copies signed ready to load up onto the Bay of E!
There are some great current angling writers out there at present, Chris Yates’s almost child-like and enthusiastic view of the world and angling to crafted literature like Luke Jenning’s ‘Bloodknots’ and John Andrew’s ‘For Those Left behind’. Luke’s book is a real page turner due to the intreguing plot and characters while John’s book has a far more personal touch but both of these books have been written with care, time has been spent, each sentence has been considered very carefully, these are not rushed books. I think this is why we are still waiting for another book from both of these authors! Another good ‘page turner’ that springs to mind is Jon Berry’s ‘Benneath the Black Water’ which takes the reader along a journey of obsession with catching ferox trout at the expense of his personal relationships and the financial demands. Jon has written some other books and I have heard good things but I have not yet got around to reading them. Dexter Petley is another fantastic author who has penned many books but has only really touched on angling with articles for Waterlog magazine (when Waterlog was a credible publication). I wish Dexter would write some more on angling, his pieces on fishing the Walthamstow reservoirs in the 1980’s are as dark and brooding and the reservoirs themselves…superb.
There is an antidote to the ‘fruit cake’ authors as I like to call them by tracking down angling liturature from the era that most of my old fishing tackle comes from, the pre and post second world war era. One such book is Fishing and Flying by Terence Horsley with illustrations by T F Tunnicliffe.
Fishing and Flying starts off with a whirlwind tour of Britain in the air from the cockpit of his Spitfire, yes Terence is a World War II pilot and a keen fisher especially for sea trout at night. Every page is rich with descriptions of his experiences in the air, by the river or simply his encounters with people like the poacher in the local pub over a pint. At this time of year a good pile of books is required for fireside reading, there are plenty of books out there at present that can be used to feed the fire, I hope to list some books here over the next few months that are good to read!