Fishing: Fine tales of the riverbank

IT IS closed season for the salmon and trout, so over the past few months I have been enjoying reading about fishing with a Monte Cristo or seven never far from my lips (sadly no real fire but a radiator, viewed through cigar haze and a half light, is an okay substitute).

To those that have never read any fishing books, they seem dreadfully dull. But some of these books are so fine and so soothing they should be prescribed by doctors for those with high blood pressure. One of my favourite books of the moment, and one that I read and re-read, is "Salmon & Women" by Wilma Paterson and Professor Peter Behan (Witherby). Although it examines the theory that women catch bigger salmon (because the bigger ones tend to be cock fish and attracted to the pheromones the female fisher passes down the line), it is the tales of long ago that enchant me so. Such as that of Georgina Ballantine's UK rod and line record (still held to this day) with her 64lb fish, caught in October 1922 on the Tay. And the fabulously named and stylish Miss Lettice Ward, who caught - among other fine fish - a 50lb salmon in 1928 on the Kinnaird beat of the Tay (where I am going next month so shall look her name up in the log book). This book is written in a lovely, lolloping style that is a delight to read, with some wonderfully evocative photographs, including one of the Queen Mother fishing in New Zealand in 1927.

On the subject of women, a book to avoid is "The Women's Guide to Angling" by Judith Milner (Thomas Harmsworth). Any woman who needs a gender-specific guide to fishing should stay away from the river bank, or throw herself off it.

The Flyfisher's Classic Library does some wonderful books, all beautifully leather-bound. "Salmon Fishing" by John James Hardy is gorgeous, with salmon fly recipes at the back and great illustrations that are clearly old but all the more charming for it. "The Sea Trout" by fishing giant Hugh Falkus comes complete with a Medicine fly set in the inner cover: very special. Call the FCL (01354 653828) for its catalogue as the books are only available direct and discover some real gems.

Falkus is well worth reading. Sadly he died almost three years ago. His last book, co-authored by Malcolm Greenhalgh, was "The Salmon & Sea Trout Fisher's Handbook" (Excellent Press). Falkus used to refer to it as the "Till Book", because he hoped it would be sold next to the till in every tackle shop. It should be.

Remember the "Teach Yourself Books"? Well there is a great one on fly fishing by Maurice Wiggin that you can look out for in second hand shops. Out at the end of March is "The New Encyclopedia of Fly Fishing" by Conrad Voss Bark (former fishing correspondent of The Times) and Eric Restall (published by Robert Hale). It is a revised version of the 1986 edition and covers just about every aspect of fly fishing. Voss Bark has written a few books on fishing, including "A History of Flyfishing" (Merlin Unwin) which is definitely for the enthusiast; it taught me that the word angling comes from the Anglo-Saxon word "angul", meaning hook. Conrad's wife, Anne, is also the author of a fine tome: "West Country Fly Fishing" (Robert Hale), a compilation of some wonderful fishing tales by some fishing colossi such as Brian Clarke, Dermot Wilson and Ted Hughes. This is the book to read before bed for a blissful, peaceful slumber. (And all royalties go to the Westcountry Rivers Trust.)

Dorling Kindersley does some of my favourite books, with lovely shiny pages and loads of illustrations. They are expensive - all that gloss costs - but is a worthwhile investment. There is "The Encyclopedia of Fishing" which takes you through tackle, bait, flies, species (I use this book constantly to look up different sorts of fish), techniques, different sorts of water...a must-have and especially good for beginners because it assumes no prior knowledge without being patronising. DK also publishes "The Complete Fly Fisher's Handbook" by Malcolm Greenhalgh and Denys Ovenden. However, despite the title it covers only trout, but how! It takes you through the trout's natural diet, in clear language with fine illustrations and then tells how to imitate the natural with lots of fly recipes. An entomological feast.

Other good, useful recipe books are "Trout & Salmon Flies of Scotland" and "Flies of Ireland" (both Merlin Unwin). Jeremy Paxman's anthology, "Fish, Fishing and the Meaning of Life" (Penguin), is a great book to dip in and out of and would be the perfect accompaniment on a fishing trip.

Finally, well worth buying for long car journeys is the delightful "Fly Fishing Tales" (John Howard Productions), calming, soothing tales told by David Profumo, Bernard Venables and others of memorable days' fishing. The tape box also contains real flies as used by the narrators. If everyone had one of these in their cassette decks there would be no more road rage, only glorious glimpses into the magical world of fishing. Just don't close your eyes to try and picture it.

a.barbieri@independent.co.uk

Suggested Topics
News
Sir David Attenborough
people
Life and Style
Young girl and bowl of cereal
food + drink
News
Comic miserablist Larry David in 'Curb Your Enthusiasm'
peopleDirector of new documentary Misery Loves Comedy reveals how he got them to open up
Arts and Entertainment
Henry VIII played by Damien Lewis
tvReview: Scheming queens-in-waiting, tangled lines of succession and men of lowly birth rising to power – sound familiar?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
football
Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Ready to open the Baftas, rockers Kasabian are also ‘great film fans’
musicExclusive: Rockers promise an explosive opening to the evening
Life and Style
David Bowie by Duffy
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Hell, yeah: members of the 369th Infantry arrive back in New York
booksWorld War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel
News
advertisingVideo: The company that brought you the 'Bud' 'Weis' 'Er' frogs and 'Wasssssup' ads, has something up its sleeve for Sunday's big match
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
i100
Environment
Dame Vivienne Westwood speaking at a fracking protest outside Parliament on Monday (AP)
environment
Life and Style
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: This post arises as a result of the need to...

Tradewind Recruitment: Class Teacher Required ASAP In Uminster

£120 - £150 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am recruiting on instruction o...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wimbledon, SW London

£24000 - £28000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wim...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness