Until about twelve months ago my interest in fishing was at best liminal. On the fringes of my mind, it was something I thought I might get back involved in one day.

After finishing my RHS Advanced course last year I was casting around for books to read after a four year (self, but necessarily-enforced) diet of little but hardcore horticultural tomes.

Either a review or an excerpt, maybe both, high-lighted Blood Knots by Luke Jennings. I bought it along with a slew of others.

Straight away I was hooked (I have just realised that there are two too many fishing metaphors in this piece already) and I read it rapidly. For the first time in far too long I had a book that I really enjoyed, couldn’t put down, didn’t want to end and felt lost when it did.

A similar route recently brought me to On Nature, and thence Caught By The River the website which spawned it. About fishing, walking, nature, birds (too many birds), music and other eclectic oddments it really was “an antidote to indifference” – there was even  the odd gardening entry and Tracey Thorn‘s greenhouse.

I consumed the years of web archives from start to finish over a short space of time and again was sorry when they ran out.

But then I picked up on How To Fish and On Fishing at Sea by Chris Yates a CBTR hero. These books are just fantastic. As with Luke Jennings’ writing, angling is both primary and at the same time secondary. Chris Yates writes so well, you almost forget he’s writing about fishing because it ties seamlessly with both memory, the present and the natural world. Yet again I was reading stuff I could not put down.

The spark having been reignited by a book and further kindled by more was glowing bright. It seemed fitting that it should be fed by old, bone-dry tinder and so I asked my mum if there were any of my old fishing books cluttering up cupboard space at her house.

Those I’d had I couldn’t recall properly, but I’m sure that there were a couple of Mr Crabtree books gleaned off a relative. Also a weird cardboard wallet folder thing that had sheets on each of our freshwater fish with a large picture, habits, angling tips and rather unusually for the UK cooking recipes. This was actually pretty weird to my juvenile mind as it was decades before HFW started catching and eating grass carp, or Eastern Europeans started (allegedly) treating our lakes and reservoirs as larders rather than a recreational resource.

After a trawl around (yes I’m doing the fishing metaphor again) she came up with this little sprat. Slim pickings and a book I’d forgotten I’d ever had Although now, turning it in my hands and looking at my childish inscription, I can recall buying it in our local WH Smiths using one of the Christmas gift vouchers we always got from our Grandad Fred.

The main thing I recall about it though, is surreptitiously reading it one the schoolbus. Not because I was ashamed of being interested in fishing, but because the I thought the bloke on the cover looked like a knob.

Still, it’s better than blanking.

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