Contrary to popular belief it is possible to learn stuff from books. Those who say bkSo how did you learn to read exactly? It is possible to learn from books, but only by actually reading them... 'you can't learn anything from books' should be consigned to the special Hell and its Demons reserved for them, along with those who say "he didn't mean any harm" and "boys will be boys" after some careless and tragic event. Anyone who thinks you can "make more than 100% effort" can fry alongside the former. Personally I'd also consign anyone who says they don't need a degree as they've been to the "University of Life". Yeah. I've been there as well, plus I have an actual science degree BScI'd just like to point out I have no issue with anyone based on their academic qualifications, education or ability. None at all. Whatsoever. Or age, race and gender for that matter. . Also down there, on a rolling boil, are those who really actually believe "the exception proves the rule", missing the point that in this case "proves" means "tests".
While I'm damning , any circle of hell is also too good for anyone who spends ten minutes (or longer) in a coffee shop queue and when they get to the till start on the "oh er...hm. I wonder what I want" routine. It is indeed fortunate for those with this special sort of selfishness, that when I'm behind them in the same queue, I don't have my cricket bat to hand.
I'm recently reminded of the need to make provision in the fifth circle for those 'well-meaning' folk who insist on asking "How are you - in Yourself?". If I wanted to discuss that you wouldn't need to ask. Bu88er off.
Of late I find myself considering that Eternity with all of Hell's demons, might be too good for people who clump around to where you are quietly and unobtrusively fishing, then stand on the skyline behind you in bright clothes asking you in a loud voice if you've caught any. I'm constantly amazed I'm polite to those such, although I'm hoping that politeness is absent come Judgement day. All those who compound this sin by asking me what bait I am using, discover that I'm "using corn and haven't had any luck..."
....and one more special torment should be reserved for those who start a patronising monologue mlHint: I called it a monologue because no one else is listening. with the phrase "If you think about it...". I have thought about it, you're wrong. If you weren't top of your class, didn't get A's in all your exams and didn't get a double first at a top university, then guess what? You're not the smartest person you know. Not remotely. Crikey, I'm not the smartest person I know.
However, if you are one of the readers ,you can, I believe, do very much worse than start off by reading some of the below...
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"If people don't occasionally walk away from you shaking their heads, you're doing something wrong." - John Gierach
|just a hook...(and back to the top of the page)||...and a loaf of bread||just a hook...||...and a loaf of bread||just a hook...||just a hook...||...and a loaf of bread||just a hook...||...and a loaf of bread||just a hook...||...and a loaf of bread||just a hook...||...and a loaf of bread||just a hook...|
I've given the books below a 'star rating' and if I'm so moved, have written stuff. Some books are all about fine prose and atmosphere, some have 'technical' stuff on fishing and tackle. A very very few have both. I'll still give a good 'technical' book four stars, because one doesn't necessarily expect to enjoy a good text-book for the language.
= Outstanding, essential, enjoyable. Read more than once.
= Very good.
= Worth reading
= Means I probably never finished reading it.
= Means the three random pages read in the bookshop failed to part me from the asking price, or if I tried to read it I gave up quite quickly.
At some point I'll organise this page into alphabetical order or something. Probably.
One last thing. Some folk never read a book twice, "What is the point?" they say. I've not got an eidectic memory, arguably semantic memory is a weakness of mine. So, I keep books that I might want to refer to and even to read again for the sheer pleasure of it.
|The Lady of the Stream...(and back to the top of the page)||Thymallus Thymallus||The Lady of the Stream||grayling||The Lady of the Stream||Thymallus Thymallus||grayling||Thymallus Thymallus|
'Still Water Angling' by Richard Walker (1978)
"When Still Water Angling was published in 1953 it was hailed as revolutionary and has been regarded as the standard work on this aspect of angling ever since." ...it says on my copy's dust jacket, a 1978 re-print. Even with so many "puddles" with "pet" carp in them, there is much in this book that is relevant still and will help you to understand and to catch fish.
It certainly formed the basis of my 'keep still, quiet and dress down' method. I also keep end-tackle as simple as possible.
'Walker's Pitch' by Richard Walker
'Drop me a Line' by Richard Walker and Maurice Ingham.
This is one of the best fishing books I have ever read. There is a wealth of good fishing tips in here and this along with the Carp Catchers Club, will show you that there is little in today's angling scene that wasn't considered and thought through in the '50's. A great profile of the two authors and the social mores of the times. Post war austerity was still a factor in everyone's lives (petrol was scarce) and colours the already fascinating dialogue. Anyone thinking about fly fishing for trout should read this, and there are also the tapers for both the original carp rod made by RW and the "Light Carp", which is not unlike the MKIV. The latter was designed for 6-10lb lines and the former, at a rough estimate was around a 2lb t/c for 12lb line and up, and seems altogether a more useful carp rod than the 'MKIV'.
As does the Sagas of Icelanders axeAfter reading this through I found I had the idea in my head that whenever a character started a sentence with "It seems to me...", they are almost certainly reaching for an axe, 'just in case'. , this book demonstrates people haven't changed much - the bit about MIMaurice Ingham fishing quietly under cover being accosted by a loud, brightly dressed skylining fisherman for information on carp fishing rings as true today, I've had exactly the same happen to me, but with some 50 odd years interval, so we rediscover that some things haven't changed - there are always those who are prepared to experiment, make up their own mind and do the hard work required to affect changes, which is good to know.
I was chuffed to find that MIMaurice Ingham had a copy of "I Walk by Night" which I got some 2 years before DMAL'Drop me a Line'. It's a little dusty window overlooking a forgotten world.
'The Carp Catcher's Club' by Maurice Ingham et al.
A classic, which will never be repeated, now we depend on email. So many of today's carp tactics were thought up within these pages, culminating with the record carp capture at Redmire. If you aspire to carp fishing you simply have to read this.
Unlike 'Drop me a Line' though this has a formality and a structure and also gaps in the narrative where things happened in the background, which are fun to speculate about over a beer, but are strictly speculation. We now know the BV thought carp fishing was being led in an over commercial direction for example and disagreed with RW on this. Water under the bridge.
It does feel as if the stuffing went out of the group a little when the record carp was captured and also interesting to know that but for a dodgy hook eye, Peter Stone would have beaten that record. Certainly RW dominated the group, but not least because he was unwilling to take anything at face value, until it was proved to his own satisfaction, but that is one of the normal (but all too occasional) dynamics of human nature.
For all that, this is another interesting record of the start of carping (among many other equally interesting things), with all sorts of useful ideas, some of which are now de-facto methods, some of which never got fully explored at the time and still haven't and some which have since been shown as erroneous. Also fun to note that the match angling fraternity of the time derided them as "not serious" and labelled them as pleasure anglers. Plus plus ç a change, plus c'est la même chose...used to express resigned acknowledgement of the fundamental immutability of human nature and institutions... "the more it changes, the more it's the same thing".
The CCCCarp Catchers Club foundered on the missing letters in its last year and the strait-jacket conventional narrative make it difficult to say what actually happened, at least not without a libel suit.
Always would've liked to have met MIMaurice Ingham though.
Confessions of a CarpFisher By "BB"
This book probably did more for the birth of carp fishing than all the others put together. It's variously interesting, realistic, poetic, matter-of-fact and romantic.
Wood Pool by "BB"
An odd little book, being an account of the stocking of a small lake and its emergence into a small carp and tench fishery, with its problems and delights almost equally well described. Worth reading if your dream is to have your own water. Worth reading on a cold winter evening as well.
Be Quiet and Go A-Angling. Michael Traherne ("BB")
This little book has a spread of fishing experiences and in places is mystical and a bit strange, but I think this volume tells you more about "BB" than many of his books. One to sink into.
'The New Compleat Angler' by Stephen Downes and Martin Knowlden
This is really worth reading through as this has the best description of how fish see the world around them (and more importantly above them) I have ever read. An understanding of this is essential for any fisherman. Leading on from that, I believe, that while drab clothing is sensible (full camouflage gear NOT essential in my opinion), stealth, and particularly lack of vibration is a huge factor in keeping fish close to you and unwary. And an unspooked fish is a lot easier to catch...
This is why I am always happier if there is some cover between me and the fish (even screen of reeds is a help), and colour in the water, while it may indicate feeding fish (which is usually good), means they can't see you either. I would add that the deeper the water is by the edge, the happier I am also.
'The Path by the Water' by A.R.B Haldane
I heartily recommend this. It's what fishing is all about. If my prose was half as good I'd be pretty pleased as well.
Although it's clear that compared with some Mr. Haldane had a privileged upbringing, his descriptions of fishing by worm and later fly in the tiny brooks near his family's home in the Ochill Hills is finely drawn and a childhood many would dream of having. Long days small stream trout-fishing, packed lunches and the slow-motion passage of time, both bewitch and transport. If the book enthrals a little less when the author move onto the Itchen later in life, that's not the fault of the writing, but is rather the reader's regret at leaving the Ochills behind.
These days no longer exist but then neither do the writers and we are poorer for it.
'By Many Waters' by A.R.B Haldane
I heartily recommend this as well. Bygone times and attitudes, but the waters are gently evoked. It's enough to make you take up fly fishing...
'Fishing Difficult Waters: Winning Tactics' by Ken Whitehead
All of Ken Whitehead's book are worth reading. He solves problems his own way and is all the better for it. A really good angler.
'Ken Whitehead's Pike Fishing'
As already mentioned, all of Mr. Whitehead's books are worth reading. It is nice to read books that don't instantly recommend the author's range of tackle as well...much of the reviews and advice on the 'net seem to end with a recommendation for the author's product. Hard to take that advice at face value really.
'Falkus and Buller's Freshwater Fishing'
Although orginally published in 1975, this has much useful advice and information on all aspects of freshwater fishing - tackle may have changed but the fish are much the same...you'll find a lot of things in here that are being used and are fashionable today.
A Ladybird Book about Coarse Angling
Yep really. This is a classic. I include it here because of the interest it evoked in me as a nine year old (1970), with terrific colour pictures of tackle and fish. Special mention must be made of the picture of a boy fishing a mill stream with a bamboo cane for a rod. I've been looking for that place all my life. And where else can you see folk fishing with a tie on? Wonderful.
Oh yes, it did also have some good basic information for those starting off along the path by the water, with knots and how to set up tackle and advice on your actual fishing.
|...of a boy fishing a mill stream with a bamboo cane for a rod||Spot the 'collar and tie', I find that extraordinary|
'Carp and the Carp Angler' by George Sharman
This is a great book for any thinking angler, an excellent and thoughtful book that never received the plaudits it deserved, perhaps unluckily due to the shadow of another book released around the same time. Yes, I mean 'Carp Fever'.
George takes us through his early carp fishing and then launches into a well thought out discussions on catching fish in heavy weed and bubblers, especially those feeding in deep silt. Few lakes now have this kind of silt, but as I fish on two such, I can vouch for his reasoning. There is a chapter on knots and their effectiveness, which raises interesting question and solves them with a new knot. The careful examination of hook sharpened with a cutting edge and outward facing barbs (both tested on self modified hooks) is a testament to one who didn't take face-value on faith, as well as having you reach for the whetstone. He shows that winter fishing for carp is not the dead duck is was then thought to be. There are many gems hidden in here, I recommend it to all those who occasionally think "I know everyone does this, but I wonder if...?"
In the days of carp books, magazines and articles by the score, most of which are recycled sales pitches, this is a breath of fresh air and its age has not rendered it obsolete. Although age alone renders nothing obsolete.
'The Carp Strikes Back' by Rod Hutchinson and friends
A terrific tale of carp obsession that dives into the despair and climbs to the elation and along the way teaches you something about carp and how to catch them. A great book for any carp angler, or for any angler of any sort really.
'Carp Fever' by Kevin Maddocks. (1989 10th Edition)
This is a fascinating book. It's been said that it's not a good read but I don't agree. That's like saying 'Moby Dick' is good, but a really good textbook on 'Moby Dick' is not good. This is, for me, a textbook on how to catch big carp consistently but of course it doesn't follow that one reads it for the lyrical prose. I approached this book with some negative thoughts and that serves me right for not making up my own mind.
Much of the carp catching mechanics are not surprising or even new for the time of the first edition. There are echoes of Richard Walker and others and it all it really comes down to the same principle as making Jugged Hare. First, catch your hare...
Location of the fish occupies a misleadingly short part of the book and you can skim it and get the wrong impression. KM spent hours, nay days locating fish in various waters, making special trips and, I've no doubt, recording everything noteworthy with times, wind, temperature and so on. From this database he would make decisions of where and when to fish, in the reasonably secure knowledge that his emplacement and the fish would coincide at the right time. To this he added the detailed records of catches, bites baits and weather until he had as complete a picture as one can get. As Richard Walker and the CCC knew, finding the fish is much more than half of the process. It's easy to underestimate the importance of this both in contemporary terms and especially with today's waters where the fish expect to find your ground-bait, consider it their natural food and even home in on the sound of it hitting the water.
Added to this, KM fished long unblinking sessions, several days at a time, but don't be fooled here. He didn't catch because he fished long sessions. He fished long sessions where and when he had determined his target fish would be feeding. There's a big difference.
KM seldom loose fed in any volume, the fish were already there (he'd checked), so were his baits. He scorned bivvies as they impeded striking. Even on a campbed he was right next to his rods and although having the benefit of being a light sleeper, he plan was to hit every bite right on cue (I'd have liked a section on how and when to hit bites on various rigs).
Although this all sounds simple (it is, in principle...), having made a massive investment in location, some considerable investments in baits and fishing hours, KM would ensure he hit every bite bar none and lost no fish if remotely possible. He certainly never lost a fish the same way twice. The rod was matched to the job and distance, the line checked, every hook tested and sharpened.
How can you not admire that kind of thoroughness? Even if you, as I do, find this intensity too much for enjoyment; even knowing that it works I couldn't fish this way. But to carry it through like this requires extraordinary focus, strength of mind and purpose.
If the book has faults - the bait section feels a bit like filler, the knot section is brief (I just can't believe he didn't test knots a little more scientifically) and there are rafts of info on locating fish that I'd love to have seen - even just one water as an example, with the hours put into divining the likely spots and the resulting catches, an example case. Having said that, having explained what you have to do, I imagine it's left to the reader to make his own location sorties and record his own data!
Neither a purist nor a romantic, KM was nevertheless the benchmark for dedicated, consistent and even ruthless carping. It's not KM's fault that so much of what has followed is pale imitation, bivvie encampment armchair-fishers, far from their tip action rods and bolt rigs, more loose feed in a session that he probably used some seasons and stew-pond fish that exist only due to the good grace of said copious feed, locating fish and watercraft cast to the winds, camping site pitches near the toilets and café. The slavish following of the two-rod all-night-session approach but without the hard earned 'where, when and how', like small boys copying their Dad. But these adherents are no worse or better than the CCC groupies who slavishly buy their B. James MKIV (even today).
Read this then and decide if you're 'serious' or not. I'm not a "serious angler" by any standards, but frankly 99% of all carp fisherman I've ever seen or met aren't either. Today's rod-pod and a bucket of boilies, pitched in the first swim that looks comfy, isn't even a tenth of the way serious compared with KM. Not remotely.
Rod and Line (Arthur Ransome)
An Angler's hours (Sheringham)
Moby Dick (Herman Neville)
Yes, I know, a whale is not a fish. What on earth has this legendary tale of near psychotic obsession with a water-bound leviathan got to do with fi...oh. I see.
I have a confession to make. Three times I've tried to read this book now. The early chapters are finely drawn to the point where the smell of fish and pipe tobacco infuses your brain and the cold touches your extremities. However, once on the Pequod and past the listing of the species of whale, I find myself unable to go on, my interested petering out like the land disappearing aft. Classic it may be, but I'm not at the point where I'll force myself to read on, when it feels like wading knee-deep where one might elsewhere run. Apologies to Herman Melville, but not it appears, my cup of tea, classic novel or not.
The Book of Eels by Tom Fort
A fascinating and timely book on a mysterious and endangered species, who's salvation may yet be that cute fluffy otters love them. In 2010, with returning rod-and-line caught eels now mandatory, perhaps it's time to revisit the remarkable story of the eel.
A Jerk on One end (Robert Hughes)
Carp Pitch by Tom O'Reilly
Quest for Carp by Jack Hilton.
Quest for the Best by Jack Hilton
Powerlines (Dexter Petley et al)
'Fish Running' stays with you (if you've both run and fished as I have), 'The Wilderness Cure' water horse rattles the scallop-shell pile in my mind, 'The Last Trout' is masterly and both 'Still Waters' and 'Pond Life''s visceral imagery tells us that those Sepia days of yore might just be figments. Every story in this book is a cracker. You'll read them more than once.
The Fishing Box (Maurice Genevoix). Translated by Dexter Petley and Laure Claesen
Even as I write this I can smell the bleak and in the still watches I fear the frog-catcher and his knife.
A Stream of Life (Bernard Venables) Interesting.
BB Remembered (Tom O'Riley)
When I first read this I gave it two stars and was disparaging. I've since re-read it and realise that I was expecting a different book and that as a result didn't judge this on its merits or on what it set out to do. As a portrait or a man who gave little away about his personal life, it is really very good. I also recommend "A Child Alone" [the Memoirs of "BB"] as well.
The Floatmakers Manual (Bill Watson) So, so handy if you're float obsessed ;-)
Casting at the Sun by Chris Yates
This is a book that allows you to identify with the writer in a quite extraordinary way, due in part to the mystery and excitement of the early fishing trips being so completely evoked that you recall those of your youth with equal clarity alongside the words on the page. It's clear there was something of an obsession with carp at one point, but it's easy to overlook this, as in some respects the difference between some avid readers and the author is whether you followed the dream or went all semi-detached early on. In the end, it reads like a fairy tale, one that is better for the truth of it and is one of the definitive works on angling by a great angler.
The Ingenious Hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha (Miguel de Cervantes Saaverdra)
Translated by John Rutherford. The classic tale of a man who didn't get out enough, slept too little, read far too many books about a long past chivalrous world that never existed and became obsessed with it to the point of psychosis. See what I did there? Don't be Quixote.
The Secret Carp (Chris Yates)
Really very good and perhaps the book that one might recommend to a non-fishermen to best give them insight as to 'why?'.
Four Seasons (Chris Yates)
Falling in Again (Chris Yates)
The Waterlog Years (Chris Yates)
River Diaries (Chris Yates)
Not his best offering, but still an enjoyable read.
Brendon Chase by "BB".
A classic of it's type.
A Child Alone - The memoirs of "BB"
I've tried once or twice, probably as a 'displacement activity', to piece together his life and family background and it's much like trying to get hold of a cross 4lb eel. Still a revealing read, for all that.
The Rabbit Skin Cap - Edited by Lilias Rider Haggard
An amazing recollection of a boy growing up in late Victorian Norfolk. You think you have a hard life?
I Walked by Night - Edited by Lilias Rider Haggard.
This life of a Norfolk poacher is wonderfully written and is as enjoyable for its evocation of lost past as it is for the details of the life of the man and his society. Superb.
Crock Of Gold: Seeking the Crucian Carp by Peter Rolfe
Possibly the only book ever written that is completely dedicated to the crucian, covering the habitat, fishing for it and preserving a species under threat.
Going Fishing by Negley Farson illustrated by C.P.Tunnecliffe
I found this in a second hand book shop and bought it on the strength of a couple of paragraphs and the engravings. It turns out it's one of the best fishing books I've ever read and is also widely regarded as one of the great fishing books. I can't believe I'd never heard of it until September 2010.
Loved River by H.R.Jukes.
I read of this in 'Waterlog' and wondered, much like when I stumbled across Negley Farson's great book NFNegley Farson's 'Going Fishing' illustrated by C.P.Tunnecliffe. , where had the 'Loved River' been all of my life? It's a simple account of the author creating the river of his dreams from the river of his childhood. By stages it becomes apparent that the river and the denizens of its valley, beautifully drawn, are tenants, that the whole is part of some estate. It is shot through with wit, beauty, engineering and above all a deep respect. The players are finely drawn, the old schoolmaster, the school-friends, the effortless charm of a good friend, the grotesquely self-entitled and the tenants. The latter are by turns indulgent, sly, slightly irreverent and decent. One must always take care with the pictures drawn by one in a privileged position, but its self-deprecation and humility rings true. You leave the 'Loved River' reluctantly wanting to know more, but that, tantalisingly, knowingly, is held just out of reach. Mesmerising, like the river itself.
|a very subtil fish...(and back to the top of the page)||Watch for magpies on your path. Throw salt over your left shoulder. Walk around ladders.||if you will Fish for a Carp, you must put on a very large measure of patience||I am content to wait. I am well used to it.||if you will Fish for a Carp, you must put on a very large measure of patience||I am content to wait. I am well used to it.||I am content to wait. I am well used to it.||a very subtil fish||Watch for magpies on your path. Throw salt over your left shoulder. Walk around ladders.||if you will Fish for a Carp, you must put on a very large measure of patience|
"Scepticism is the highest of duties; blind faith the unpardonable sin." Huxley
|'perca fluviatilis'...(and back to the top of the page)||Stripey||'Sarge'||A 'swagger' of perch||'Sarge'||A 'swagger' of perch||A 'swagger' of perch||'perca fluviatilis'||Stripey||'Sarge'|
|03:41am on 2017-08-17|