Contrary to popular belief it is possible to learn stuff from books. Those who say; "You can't learn anything from books." bkSo how did you learn to read exactly? It is possible to learn from books, but only by actually reading them... should be consigned to a special Hell with its Demons, along with anyone who says "They didn't mean any harm..." or "Boys will be boys..." bwbbDidn't much care whether they did any harm though... after some careless and tragic event. Anyone who thinks you can "Make more than 100% effort" can also fry. Personally, I would consign anyone who says they do not need a degree as they've been to the "University of Life". Yeah. I have been there as well, we all have.BScIt turns out that intelligence is not correlated with 'not being a dick'...
So note that 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, rather missing the point, really actually believe "The exception proves the rule.".

While I am damning, any circle of hell is too good for anyone who spends ten minutes (or longer) in a coffee shop queue and only when they reach the till, start on the "Oh I wonder what I want..." routine. It is indeed fortunate for those with this special sort of narcissistic selfishness, that when I am behind them in the same queue I do not have my cricket bat to hand. I am 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 would not 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 have caught any. All those who compound this sin, by asking me what bait I am using, discover that I am "Using corn mate and haven't had anything yet." And finally, 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 are wrong.

I recently read that one should spend at least five hours a week learning something. Although this smacks of a fad that the enterprising can expand into a 200 page self-help shThe only person these kinds of book generally help, are the authors, as buying the book helps them to be richer. book, it is not a bad rule. So, if you are one of the readers you can, I believe, do very much worse than read 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 ~~ 

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I have given some of the books below a 'star rating' and if 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 will give a good 'technical' book four stars, because one does not necessarily expect to enjoy a good text-book for the language. Equally, I might rate a book highly even if I know it is a bit 'madey uppy'...if you want truth, fishing literature is not the place to start...

"...if you wish to strive for peace of soul and pleasure, then believe; if you wish to be a devotee of truth, then inquire..." ~~ Friedrich Nietzsche ~~ 

 star rating = Outstanding, essential, enjoyable. Read more than once.

 star rating = Very good.

 star rating = Worth reading. Probably.

 star rating = Means I never finished reading it.

 star rating = Means the three random pages read in the bookshop failed to part me from the asking price, or I tried to read it and gave up.

There are not many one or two-star ratings as I probably will not mention those books at all. Probably. A penultimate thing; some folk never read a book twice, "What is the point?" they say. I have not got an eidectic memory and arguably semantic memory is a weakness of mine. So, I keep books that I might want to refer to or even read again for the sheer pleasure of it.

Lastly, the menu items below include the 'book list' for those diary pages that have such, and the last entry leads near-seamlessly into a big chronological list of the all the other books mentioned on the site.

just a hook...just a hook...(and back to the top of the page) ...and a loaf of bread...and a loaf of bread just a hook...just a hook... ...and a loaf of bread...and a loaf of bread just a hook...just a hook... ...and a loaf of breadjust a hook... just a hook......and a loaf of bread ...and a loaf of breadjust a hook... just a hook......and a loaf of bread ...and a loaf of breadjust a hook... just a hook......and a loaf of bread ...and a loaf of breadjust a hook... just a hook......and a loaf of bread ...and a loaf of breadjust a hook...

2010's books

This year, I've decided to make a note of what I read and what I thought about it, more for my own interest than for any other reason.

"Supersense" by Bruce Hood. star rating 
"Hooked (fishing memories)" by George Melly.  star rating 
Just brilliant. It soars and plunges with the author's emotional highs and lows and the book, along with Mr. Melly's sanquinity, is anchored by the fishing.
"The Solar Fraud" by Howard C. Hayden. star rating 
Insightful and sobering. There are many useful points in this book, but one of the most useful is the adjunct to calculate everything in watts. Thus we find that a square meter of PV solar panel has an average output of 20W in the northern hemisphere, which is not very much. Plus one is reminded that wind is ultimately solar power.
"Brendon Chase" by 'B.B.'. star rating 
A classic of its type.
"The Wee Free Men" by Sir Terry Pratchett. star rating 
Awesome. Feegles are one of the great inventions of literature. As is the word 'scunner'.
"The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" by Stieg Larson. star rating 
The book really is better than the film - and the film(s) are good.
"Be Quiet and Go A-Angling" by Michael Traherne ('BB') star rating 
This little book describes a wide range of fishing experiences and in places is mystical and singular, but I think perhaps tells you more about 'BB' than some of his books. One to sink into.
"Preludes and Nocturnes" by Neil Gaiman. star rating 
"The Liar in Your Life" by Robert Feldman. star rating 
Meh. Even with appropriate academic hindsight, this wasn't great.
"Carp Sense" by Jim Gibbinson. star rating 
If one could read only six carp-fishing books in one's life, at least three of them ought to be Jim Gibbinson's.
"Quest for Carp" by Jack Hilton. star rating 
This one of those books aspiring carp anglers feel they ought to read, but while I enjoyed it I felt it was more autobiographical than instructive. Still.
Quest for the Best by Jack Hilton. star rating 
While it wasn't by any means as good a book as "Quest for Carp", it wasn't a 'two-star' read either.
"No Need to Lie" by Richard Walker. star rating 
'BB' Remembered by Tom O'Riley. star rating 
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's not bad.
"Stream of Life" by Bernard Venables. star rating 
It's a fascinating read and one wonders why he was near-deified in later life, not that I've anything against him or his works.
"Musicophilia" by Oliver Sacks. star rating 
Quite fascinating.
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2011's Books

"Well and Springs of Dorset" (1926) by Whitaker and Edwards. star rating 
I was just interested, all sorts of odd books in the library you know. Amazing how many ponds and springs are no longer visible today.
"Eels; The Final Frontier" by Steve Ricketts. star rating 
A worthy book on the oddity that is the Anguilla Anguilla. It's illegal to keep rod caught eels now, not before time. If netting and trapping was illegal we'd be getting somewhere and might save them.
"A Passionate Angler" by Maurice Wiggin. star rating 
"Speaking as a very lazy man who is miserable if he is doing nothing, I must say fishing gives me precisely the right amount of occupation."
"Matter" by Iain M. Banks. star rating 
As far as I can tell this is a live action game of three dimensional chess. Maybe...
"Float Fishing" by Billy Lane. star rating 
"The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England" by Ian Mortimer. star rating 
"A Brief History of Robin Hood" by Nigel Crawthorne. star rating 
"The Little Book of Dorset" by David Hilliam. star rating 
A book that exists not to be read by the buyer, but to be bought as a gift by those who wish to appear thoughtful when buying the present - but for all that a quite interesting read.
"Unseen Academicals" by Sir Terry Pratchett. star rating 
"I Shall Wear Midnight" by Sir Terry Pratchett. star rating 
"The Painted Stream" by Robin Armstrong. star rating 
A surprise this, I flicked a page or two over and enjoyed the paragraphs I read, so handed over the money. On reading fully I found it engaging, evocative and beautifully illustrated. Highly recommended, even if you are not a game-fisherman.
"Fishing for a Year" by Jack Hargreaves. star rating 
This little book came well recommended and is a series of neatly drawn vignettes, a good read, but over too quickly and some might say overpriced as a consequence. Enjoyable nonetheless.
"Fishing Difficult Waters: Winning Tactics" by Ken Whitehead. star rating 
All of Ken Whitehead's books are worth reading. He solves problems his own way and the book are all the better for this. A really good angler.
"Tales From the Water's Edge" by Tom Quinn. star rating 
"Carp Pitch" by Tom O'Reilly. star rating 
"The Sherlockian" by Graham Moore. star rating 
Not great, not bad. In my defence I was stuck in Istanbul for three hours, but Victorian 5p 'shillings'? Ye Gods, grating doesn't cover that. But a nice exploration of the change in tone of the Sherlock Holmes canon as it progresses, that is, the change from a strict adherence to the rule of law and the involvement of the police, to the gentle shift towards taking the law into Holmes' own hands.
"The People's Poet; William Barnes of Dorset" by Alan Chedzoy. star rating 
Someone once described JAA as a 'polymath', as a compliment. Probably. William Barnes was a true polymath and one of the unsung heroes of the last century. I don't pretend to understand the meter of half of his poems, but they still resonate.
The Primrwose in the shade do blow,
The cowslip in the zun,
The thyme upon the down do grow,
The clote where streams do run;
An' where do pretty maidens grow
An' blow, but where the tow'r
Do rise among the bricken tuns,
In Blackmwore by the Stour.
"Fishing for Beginners" by Maurice Wiggin. star rating 
I recently found a copy for myself - I'd forgotten the dry, self deprecating wit that makes it so good.
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2012's Books

"A Passion for Angling" by Chris Yates, Bob James and Hugh Miles. star rating 
The companion book for the DVD series (or TV series as it was then) and although 'it is what is', it's well written and nicely illustrated both with line drawings and photographs. Interesting behind the scenes view as well, a lot of filming goes into those episodes. Well worth a read.
"The Scientist, the Madman, the Thief and their Lightbulb" by Keith Tutt. star rating 
Picked this out of a shelf in Oxfam and it's fascinating - to write anything on 'over unity' machines takes courage and this book is even handed and interesting. And the book had a letter from the author for the original recipient tucked inside. Funny old world. While I know most of this stuff is flim-flam, one can't help but think something is going on in there somewhere.
"Summer on the Nene" by 'BB'. star rating 
I've just finished this, it meanders much like the boat trip itself, but it is a delightful read for all that. I never knew bleak made a good meal or that the old name for a cockerel was "John Thomas". Heh.
"The Case for Working With Your Hands" by Matthew Crawford. star rating 
This book explains why bureaucrats lack empathy, why pointless paperwork saps your will to live, why office politics are the way of life for the grey people and why so many of us anglers make tackle. Amongst a whole lot of other things besides. Life is too short not to read this book and change things as a result.
"The Carp Strikes Back" by Rod Hutchinson and Friends. star rating 
A terrific tale of carp obsession that dives into despair, then climbs to 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.
"Ghost Riders" by Richard Grant. star rating 
This is a quite entrancing book,dealing with, as a broad theme, wanderlust, but covering contemporary nomads in the USA and exploring in the process, some fascinating history of the America's from the Spanish to the Plains Indians. Remarkable.
"Collected Folk Tales" by Alan Garner. star rating 
If you like this kind of thing, you'll like this and as ever, for me at least, the best ones are those from Albion's shores with their echoes of unchanging human nature and aspirations, overlaid with supernatural forces and giddying plot twists. Intriguing stuff.
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2013's Books (so far...)

"Icelandic Folk Tales I, II and III" traditional, by Alan Boucher. star rating 
Bonkers, fascinating, instructive, eerie, tales of human frailty, heroism and greed. It's all in there somewhere.
"The Prince" by Niccolò Machiavelli. star rating 
It's devious of course, as advertised, but thoughtfully written and cleverly argued and set out. But was the whole book a trap? You decide...
"Riders of the Purple Sage" by Zane Gray. star rating 
"The Virginian" by Owen Wister. star rating 
Written around the turn of the century, it's easy to dismiss this as clichès, but this was the first of its type in many respects, the characters are well drawn and the landscapes beautifully evoked. Give it a go I say, you can also get it as a free audio book. I prefer it to Zane Gray's better known "Riders of the Purple Sage" (although I like that also).
"Confessions of a Shooting Fishing Man" by Laurence Catlow. star rating 
This cost £1 in the Oxfam second-hand book-shop in Shaftesbury and was a great bargain for me. Dealing with a year-long diary of rough shooting and flying fishing in Cumbria spliced with the acquisition of the author's own patch and it's Christening(in every sense) is an episodic delight. If it occasionally veers toward the maudlin, well, who doesn't? But how many of us set it down for the world? Such a good read.
"Catch Carp and Tench With John Wilson". star rating 
Acquired for a whole £2.80 from a well known internet book-store. It's full of good practical advice on location and method for both species. It makes the valuable and under-appreciated points that location is everything, and that bolt-rigs are not the be-all and end-all.
"By Many Waters" by A.R.B Haldane. star rating 
I heartily recommend this. Bygone times and attitudes, but the waters are pleasingly evoked and one is transported to them. It's enough to make you take up fly fishing...
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2014's Books (so far...)

"The Long Earth" by Sir Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter. star rating 
Bought as an audio book to drive to and I've enjoyed it immensely, with its infinite scope and smart exploration of the science and the premise of parallel worlds along with the social impliciations of migration to said worlds.
Plenty of TP's trademark humour and good characterisiation to boot. A very good book, I shall be after the sequels.
"The Knight" by Gene Wolfe. star rating 
I started with Severian the Torturer and have long stuck with the author and his works. This book a new one for me. GW's a master story teller and stories within stories are a trademark of sorts and this book, the first of two is no exception. Even though I'm more than lost in the intricacies of the plot, based on assorted folk tales, legends of faerie and Celtic myths, through which a brash boy-knight threads with his would-be concubines, a talking dog/demon and a talking cat, it's still a delight.
"The Hydrogen Sonata" - Iain M. Banks star rating 
I've not visited The Culture for some years, a pleasure I'd reserve for return flights or an hour on overnight stays. Still with a scope that is mind expanding and for me at least the exchanges between the Ships' minds are still highlights. Brilliant, humorous, dark thoughtful as ever. Much missed.
"A Touch of Frost" / "Frost at Christmas" by R. D. Wingfield. star rating 
I'd seen Frost on the telly of course, but the books were a pleasant surprise, in that they're lacking the sentimentality required for mass-market TV and are a lot more fun, without ever losing sight of the police work, with it's highs and lows. Intermingled are some pithy observations, usually just when you find yourself drifting leftish or agreeing with some ill-thought out observation by one of the secondary characters. Heartily recommend.
"Forever Odd" by Dean Koontz. star rating 
Unashamed holiday reading, but I read one of the previous Brother Odd books on holiday two years ago and find them fun, if courting everyman America a little hard, seeing the departed is a nice idea, but to have Elvis appearing every third page is bare-faced pandering... Still, I've read two of them now. Until next holiday then...
"Nothing But Blue Skies" by Tom Holt. star rating 
I've managed to avoid Mr. Holt's brand of Prachettian humour for some reason, perhaps too busy to read for the early years of parenthood. I enjoyed this, it was funny, had some great ideas, it's a shame that dragons don't control the rain, but I'm afraid I skimmed it a bit towards the end. But I'd read another.
"The Hare" by Jill Mason. star rating 
A enchanting book, crammed with useful facts and information on all species of hare. More importantly it's also crammed with the most incredible pictures of hares, which for me at least, are a source of never ending delight.
"Smoke in the Lanes" by Dominic Reeve. star rating 
Quite fascinating account of Romani traveller life in the late 1950's when the erosion of common land began in earnest. This isn't romanticised in any way, either the hardships of the life or the folk themselves and is all the better for it.
"Luck" by Ed Smith star rating 
A good read and it made some nice points about both luck and more tellingly the predominance of the privately educated in both the current rugby and cricket worlds, never mind our existing government. It's not a surprise to find social mobility is lower now that in the 1960's and the US situation is worse than Europe. Some nice insider titbits from the cricket world as well. I enjoyed it, but put it down thinking I'd expected more.
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2015's Books

"Raising Steam" by Sir Terry Pratchett. star rating 
The usual run of hilarity, sly digs and in-jokes as steam-power comes to Discworld. Great fun and a good read and the Patrician out-thinks us all again.
"My Outdoor Life" by Ray Mears. star rating 
A surprise birthday present - a very good read indeed with some great insights. If you like it outdoors, you'll like this book.
"The Idle Angler" by Kevin Parr. star rating 
Just read this, after keeping it 'on ice' since Christmas - on purpose - as a good read for a week-end away. I thoroughly enjoyed it, though it was too cover to cover in one sitting (a rare treat in itself) and was transported...oh wait but it didn't fully explain where the best perch spots at Barton's Court are exactly... ;-)
"The Whole Hog" by Lyall Watson. star rating 
Good and interesting as usual with Mr. Watson.
"The Goddess and the Alphabet" by Leonard Shlain. star rating 
This book left me almost open-mouthed with its reach and implications. The idea that literacy and the alphabet reinforces left-brained male traits to the point where literate societies were almost always born in a welter of misogyny and blood, is carefully argued and beautifully spread out across the centuries for you to take in.
The left brain's focus and the right brain's being has peculiar resonance with angling and my own profession - an explanation as to why attention to detail is the obstacle to seeing the bigger picture and vice versa - although most who think they are 'looking at the bigger picture' and are therefore smarter than the detailers toiling away, are of course, let's be kind, misguided.
If I was to carp at all, it's that there is a hint of confirmation bias (are there any major societies where this didn't happen or the reverse occurred?). However, the rise of images as communication media, TV and image based messaging services give one some hope that the world will change for the better. One, of course, can't believe everything seen in pictures and videos - but not everything that is written down is true either. Even this. You'll need to read the book for yourself.
"The Death of Kings" by Bernard Cornwell. star rating 
It is unwise to pick a fight with a man who has two swords.
"A Darker Domain" by Val McDermid. star rating 
"A Song of Ice and Fire" by George R. R. Martin. star rating 
I've cracked and read it. It's true, nearly everyone dies, there's a lot of violence and the 'other stuff'. Riveting. For a bit. Then you start thinking, 'get on with it' and midway through book two I lost interest...
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2016's Book

"Dark Nature" by Lyall Watson. star rating 
Interesting, diverse, unsettling and a jolly good read. As usual with the late Mr. Watson.
...and that wraps it up for...
...'the books I've read' section...

As discussed at the top of the page, I'd previously added a 'books of the year' section to a number of the 'annual diary' pages. I did this some time after the site was initially built and before all the site's material was organised as individual records, so a lot of other literature-related posts are dotted around the rest of the website.

This page rounds them up and displays them all below, in chronological order.

Books, fishing and otherwise 1974. "A Ladybird Book about Coarse Angling". star rating Yep really, my first fishing book and a classic. I include it here because of the interest it evoked in me as a nine year old (c. 1970), with its terrific colour pictures of fish and fishing tackle. 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.

Spot the 'collar and tie'...of a boy fishing a mill stream with a bamboo cane for a rod Spot the 'collar and tie'Spot the 'collar and tie', I find that extraordinary

Books, fishing and otherwise 1974. "Fishing with the Experts" with Mr Crabtree. star rating Christmas 1974 came, went, and I then had two more fishing books - "Fishing with the Experts" with Mr Crabtree and "Fishing - An Illustrated Guide to the Art of Catching Fish" star rating , which was not the same sort of book but nevertheless I pored over its colour plates of sea, coarse and game fish, then made the pike lure from instructions on p.57. It worked, but never caught a fish. I've put it here in defiance of copyright as (a) it's seriously out of print and (b) no money changing hands here and (c) it's really rather good. Both of those books vanished without trace while I was 'reading' Physics & Electronics, but serendipitously, after recalling them on-line in 2009 or so, I found a copy of each in a Blandford Forum bookshop in successive weeks. What are the odds?

Fishing with the Experts'Fishing with the Experts' Fishing - An Illustrated Guide to the Art of Catching Fish'Fishing - An Illustrated Guide to the Art of Catching Fish' Fishing - An Illustrated Guide to the Art of Catching Fish'Fishing - An Illustrated Guide to the Art of Catching Fish'

Books, fishing and otherwise April 1979. 'Still Water Angling' by Richard Walker (1978) star rating

"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." 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, which I started using in the early 1980's, when time permitted fishing at all. Sure it has no 'rigs', but fish are still fish.

Books, fishing and otherwise 1990. 'The New Compleat Angler' by Stephen Downes & Martin rating 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.

Books, fishing and otherwise 1993. 'Ken Whitehead's Pike Fishing'. star ratingAll of Mr. Whitehead's books are worth reading. It is nice to read books that do not instantly recommend the author's range of tackle...much of the reviews and advice on the 'net seem to end with a recommendation for the author's product. It is hard to take such advice at face value. This book looks at pike fishing problems from the bottom up, with solutions arrived at by virtue of sensible un-biased thinking. As a result there is much to learn from this book, both about pike-fishing and how to approach problems.

Books, fishing and otherwise May 2006. 'Confessions of a CarpFisher' By "B.B.". star ratingThis 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 and I suspect many of us are chasing the vision this book places dangles in front of us.

This is another of those books borrowed from the High Wycombe library in the 1970s, then filling my head with images of mystical carps and dark brooding lakes, which I'd thought my own. Reading it anew I found much that was familiar.

Books, fishing and otherwise November 2006. "The Floatmakers Manual" by Bill Watson. star rating So, so handy if you're float-obsessed, or even if you are just very very interested. While much of the advice herein is aimed at those who might want make floats in larger numbers, the author made floats for sale in his own tackle-shop, there are plenty of valuble tips for the small batch amateur float-maker.

Books, fishing and otherwise March 2007. I Walked by Night - Edited by Lilias Rider Haggard. star rating I plucked this from the country-life shelf of a small dusty musky chaotic and soon thereafter, vanished book-shop in Dorchester. The life of the King of the Norfolk Poachers is wonderfully written, beautifully illustrated, and is as enjoyable for its evocation of a lost past as it is for the details of the life of the man and his society. Superb.

The Dorchester BookshopThe Dorchester Bookshop, gone now, but for the sign which was still there in 2018.

Books, fishing and otherwise June 2007. "The Path by the Water" by A.R.B Haldane star rating  The second and last book plucked from same small dusty musky chaotic book-shop that yielded "I Walked by Night". I heartily recommend this, it's what fishing is all about.

It's clear that Mr. Haldane had a privileged upbringing compared with some, but his descriptions of worm and fly fishing the tiny brooks near his family's home in the Ochill Hills are finely drawn. Certainly it's a fishing childhood some would dream of having had. Long days of 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 moves onto the Itchen later in his life, that's not the fault of the writing, but is rather this reader's regret at leaving the Ochills behind. Those days no longer exist but then neither do their writers and we are poorer for it.

Books, fishing and otherwise March 2008. 'Casting at the Sun' by Chris Yates. star rating Definitive.

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.

I took this book to a trade show in Hanover, a week-long concatenation of 12-hour days on one's feet, early drinks and late dinners, book-ended by a 12 hour drive in both directions. This was a mistake as I read this book until the small hours when I should have been snatching a few more hours of sleep. I don't regret this.

Books, fishing and otherwise January 2009. 'Drop me a Line' by Richard Walker and Maurice Ingham. star rating

This is one of the best fishing books I have ever read. It contains a wealth of good fishing tips and this book, 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 1950'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 'MK IV'. 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 'MK IV'.

This book demonstrates people haven't changed much - as does the 'Sagas of Icelanders' axeAfter reading this through, I found that, whenever a character started a sentence with "It seems to me...", I imagined they were almost certainly casually reaching for an axe, 'just in case'. - 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 NightProper Poaching" which I got some two years before DMAL'Drop me a Line'. It's a little dusty window overlooking a forgotten world.

Books, fishing and otherwise February 2009. 'Walker's Pitch' by Richard Walker. Another good book by the man. star rating

Books, fishing and otherwise February 2009. 'The Carp Catcher's Club' by Maurice Ingham et al. star rating 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, sounds like a proper gent.

Books, fishing and otherwise March 2009. "The Ingenious Hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha" by Miguel de Cervantes Saaverdra star rating (translated by John Rutherford). At some point on the turnpike engineering carousel I determined that if I was to have spare time on return flights I would read books that might improve my education. So it was I purchased and read this classic tale, which I can report is nicely written, wryly observed, shot through with sly wit and insight and has almost nothing to do with windmills. This is though, an account 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.

Books, fishing and otherwise May 2009. The Fishing Box by Maurice Genevoix. Translated by Dexter Petley and Laure Claesen. star ratingEven as I write this I can smell the bleak and in the still watches I fear the frog-catcher and his knife.

Books, fishing and otherwise July 2009. The Waterlog Years by Chris Yates. star ratingThis neat little collection of articles penned for Waterlog is a nice addtion to anyone's fishing shelf.

Books, fishing and otherwise July 2009. "Powerlines" edited by Dexter Petley  star rating An extraordinary collection of fishing stories. "Fish Running" is in my mind still, possibly because I have also fished and run, "The Wilderness Cure" water-horse clatters my own internal scallop-shell pile, "The Last Trout" is masterly and the visceral imagery of "Still Waters" and "Pond Life" suggests that for many, the 'Mr. Crabtree' days might just be figments. Every story in this book is a cracker. You'll read them more than once. You may well recall them for many years thereafter.

Books, fishing and otherwise September 2009. "Moby Dick" by Herman Neville. star rating This was the second of my "Read an improving book while flying home." experiments. 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 angli...oh, wait.

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, fish stew and pipe tobacco infuses your brain and the cold touches your extremities. However, past the listing of the species of whale and once aboard the Pequod, I find myself unable to go on, my interested petering out like the land disappearing aft. 'Classic' it may be, but I'm not mothered to 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.

Books, fishing and otherwise January 2010. "Carp and the Carp Angler" by George Sharman star rating This is a book for the thinking angler, it's both excellent and thoughtful, but perhaps never received the plaudits it deserved, perhaps due to the long shadow of another book ('Carp Fever') released around the same time.

George takes us through his early carp fishing and then launches into 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 questions then answers them with a new knot. The careful examination of hooks 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 was 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 just age alone renders nothing obsolete.

Books, fishing and otherwise March 2010. A Stream of Life by Bernard Venables. star rating Interesting. As much to read between the lines as on them.

Books, fishing and otherwise March 2010. Rod and Line by Arthur Ransome. star rating The stories are in some respects unremarkable, but they are of course, beautifully written.

Books, fishing and otherwise September 2010. Going Fishing by Negley Farson, illustrated by C.P.Tunnecliffe. star ratingI found this in a second-hand book shop in Dorchester, 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.

Books, fishing and otherwise October 2010. 'Carp Fever' by Kevin Maddocks (1989 10th Edition). star ratingThis 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 new even at the date of the first edition's publication. There are echoes of Richard Walker and others and it all boils down to the same principle as making Jugged Hare. First, catch your hare...

Fish location occupies a misleadingly short part of the book, which you can skim and get the wrong impression. KM spent hours, nay days, locating fish in various waters, making special observation trips and I've no doubt, recording everything noteworthy with times, wind direction, temperature and so on. Drawing from this database he would make decisions about 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 detailed records of catches, bites, baits and weather until he had as complete a picture as one can get. As Richard Walker and the C.C.C.The Carp Catchers' Club knew, finding the fish is much more than half of the process. It's easy to underestimate the importance of this at the time of publication, especially in comparison with modern carp fishing, where the fish expect to find ground-bait, consider it their natural food and even home in on the sound of it hitting the water.

In addition, KM fished long unblinking sessions, several days at a time, but don't be misled. He didn't catch because he fished long sessions. He caught by fishing 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, then 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, as I do, you 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 I'd like to have seen much more info. about fish location - even with just one water as an example - with the hours put into divining the likely spots and the resulting catches; an example case. Still, having explained what needs to be done, 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 KM 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. Although these adherents are neither worse nor better than the C.C.C.The Carp Catchers' Club 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.

Books, fishing and otherwise October 2010. "River Diaries" by Chris Yates. star rating Not his best work, but an enjoyable read and still very much better than the majority of angling books.

Books, fishing and otherwise October 2010. A Child Alone - The Memoirs of 'B.B.'. star rating 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 an irritated 4lb eel. Still, a revealing read, for all that.

Books, fishing and otherwise August 2011. "Wood Pool" by 'BB' star rating  An odd but warm little book, being an account of the stocking of a small lake and its gradual metamorphosis into a 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 'just because'.

Books, fishing and otherwise 22nd December 2013. ...and in 13 days my farcebookme, me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me... page will self destruct...I won't miss it.

P.S. a copy of Unbound's crowd-funded "The Lost Diary" by one Christopher Yates turned up at the East Wing yesterday, and yep, that's JAA in the subscriber list at the back. I've heard the odd grumble but got what was expected and halfway through, am really enjoying it. star rating  Not his finest work, but still a good deal better than most.

Books, fishing and otherwise September 2014. "Gone fishing" by William Nathan. star rating I bought this for one reason and one reason only; the chapter "Salmon and Sentiment: a Cardiganshire Episode." There was a period during the 1970's during which I borrowed every fishing book the local library had. This small tale, read during that time, one of a boy poaching at night and hooking a twice-forbidden salmon, lodged in my mind for 39 years, by capturing and imprinting the sound and feel of worming a small stream in the dark. I was delighted to find it again. You might be too. The rest of the book is as good, tho' not burrowing quite as deep.

Books, fishing and otherwise 18th June 2016. 'Reflections on Still Water' by Peter Rolfe.  star rating  Last DecemberReflections on Still Water I had the privilege of attending the launch of Peter Rolfe's new book. I promised myself then, with studies intensifying, I would read it after the exams.

'Reflections on Still Water'Reflections on Still Water - dust jacket 'Reflections on Still Water'Reflections on Still Water - Fishing Tales

So, today, with the results announced (in a good way), I settled down with my copy, put the hay-fever drugs on the shelf, got out a new bottle of very underrated Aberlour single malt (which was on offer and I got a discount) and had a jolly good read...

The book is a mine of information with nicely framed pictures and a narrative driven by the history, restoration and love of the lakes, with fishing that is more than just catching fish. I've fished there a good few times and one could argue that this made it more real for this reader. Nevertheless, I like that it focusses on the detailed creation of the waters, as well the fauna and flora that sprang up, both on its own and with some help from Peter. I also like the way the 'fishing tales' are at the back of the book in, some might say, their proper place. I shall read it again you may be sure and thoroughly recommend it.

You really ought to get yourself a copy. I may have something of a 'head' tomorrow.

Books, fishing and otherwise 15th January 2017. Loved River by rating 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.

H.R. Jukes 'Loved River' map.H.R. Jukes 'Loved River' map.

Here shall he fear no enemy,
But Winter and Rough Weather.

P.S. It's a total fiction by the by, but what in fishing is all truth?

Books, fishing and otherwise 24th January 2017.

"If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about the answers." ~~ Thomas Pynchon from his 1972 novel 'Gravity's RainbowGravity's Rainbow is a 1973 novel by American writer Thomas Pynchon, traversing a wide range of knowledge, the novel transgresses boundaries between high and low culture, between literary propriety and profanity, and between science and speculative metaphysics.'. ~~ 

Books, fishing and otherwise 15th February 2018. A Beautiful Game by Mark Nicholas.  star rating 

Nothing to do with fishing of course, but still worth mentioning. I've had this book sitting on the 'to read' stack for a year or so. Finally, yesterday, I picked it up, started reading, then pretty much read it through, barring coffee collection intervals. Well written cricket book are not as rare as (say) well written fishing books, but are still uncommon. 'A Beautiful Game' is a joy to read, and author's love for the game radiates from every page. If you like cricket, you'll like this, if you love cricket, you'll love this.

Books, fishing and otherwise 12th March 2018. The Adaptable Fly-Fisher (Wild Trout and Coarse Fish on Fly) by Lou Stevens.  star rating 

I picked up this little gem last week in the back-room of a Beverly mini-arcade. It's down-to-earth and full of practical advice on: casting, what fly patterns one actually needs, tying them, when and where they are needed and sound advice on fly-fishing for wild trout and coarse fish. I thoroughly recommend it.

Books, fishing and otherwise 11th August 2018. "Always Summer" by Peter Rolfe & Michael Pickford. Old friends Peter Rolfe and Michael Pickford fished together for many years, then Michael emigrated to New Zealand. Occasionally, he re-visited the UK and they yarned and fished again, but their main contact was through correspondence, first by long-distance letters, and then by e-mail. Their fishing is very different. Peter's is mostly confined to the small local ponds and lakes he restored and managed, tiny environments from which he has learned so much. In contrast, Michael usually fishes for big trout in the wild waters of New Zealand, including legendary Lake Taupo; but, against all odds, he has discovered coarse fishing of high quality close to his home in the North Island.

This delightful book is the result of a friendship lasting 55 years but is focused on just 12 months, covering a fishing year in two very different places - where summer can be found all year round!

A book launch will be held at Shaftesbury Arts Centre, SP7 8AR, Saturday 25th August, 11am to 2pm. All are welcome. Please let Peter knowThe Crucian Crusader himself if you are coming to the event - books can be paid for in advance and signed and picked up on the day. Refreshments available.

'Always Summer' by Peter Rolfe and Michael Pickford This delightful book is the result of a friendship lasting 55 years but is focused on just 12 months, covering a fishing year in two very different places - where summer can be found all year round! 'Always Summer' by Peter Rolfe and Michael Pickford This delightful book is the result of a friendship lasting 55 years but is focused on just 12 months, covering a fishing year in two very different places - where summer can be found all year round!

It'll be convivial event, so do please pop along. You can buy a copy on the day or order a copy from the Medlar PressPurveyors of fine fishing books..

Books, fishing and otherwise 19th July 2019. Split-Cane and Sable by Robin Armstrong.  star rating 

This is the third of Mr. Armstrong's books that I've read and they are all delightful. This is a little more autobiographical than the others, but as ever it's wonderfully illustrated by the author and is redolent of his love and knowledge of his environment. I'm not a fly-fisher (yet) but it's books like this that edge me ever nearer to the Frome's sea-trout. I urge you to read it.

Books, fishing and otherwise October 2019. "One Last Cast"

One Last Cast

Pete's at last written the sequel to 'The Net on the Garage WallAmongst all the fishing stories is quite a lot about restoring small ponds and lakes...'. In it he's drawn a final line under his own angling and conservation experiences, bringing things as up-to-date as possible. It's a special book, with numerous fine drawings by Trevor Harrop. Just 200 copies are being published. The book launch is in Shaftesbury on December 7th and it'll be a notable angling occasion! If you want to pre-order a copy, at £20 plus postage, please get in touch via this website.

Books, fishing and otherwise 2nd March 2020. This Fishing by Captain L. A. Parker. star rating 

This fine little book, printed in 1948, when chaps wore jackets and properly baggy trousers, even when fishing, has a great deal relevant to even the modern angler. A skilful angler, clearly, the author was also inventive and a great recorder of the kind of data that hardly anyone takes these days and in many waters today does not matter very much. In particular, the author notes that (winter) river water temperatures are critical and one will almost never catch at water temperatures of 40°F (4.4°C) or less but at water temperatures of 41-42°F (5-5.6°C) there are fish to be had. At 44-45°F (6.7-7.2°C) you may score very well, although the fish still have to be located.

This is but one example of his careful approach: others include the important of plumbing carefully and extensively, methods of shotting while avoiding damage to gut hook-links, something worth consideration even with nylon lines, ground-bait and its deployment and many other useful pieces of advice. All of these are distilled from experience, observation and experiment. Even his notes and methods for carp fishing are prescient. I was very taken with his method of long trotting dry-flies and there is much else in this little book to agree with, along with many more useful observations. A great deal could be learnt by careful study of this neat, accurate and entertaining book.

Books, fishing and otherwise 9th March 2020. Dark Estuary by 'BB'. star rating 

I was lucky enough to pick this up for a song, a first edition, complete with its dust-jacket and water-colour illustrations. This is a soulful read, BB's love of the wild places of the geese is, for this reader, stronger than the love of the geese themselves and for me, (also) a lover of winter, wild spaces and the smell of the salt-flats, it is richly evocative of place and also perhaps, of a more innocent time. It seems to me that the book is as much about men undertaking these activities without the modern malaise of second guessing what is 'right or 'correct', as it is about wild-fowling.

It is interesting to note that BB himself felt strongly about only shooting the edible and eating one's bag. He had no time for slaughter for only the sake of the act. There are echoes of the privileged upbringing of the author and his fellows, but if one is determined to be offended, something can always be found to rail against.

The (water) colour plates are appropriately 'landscape' and display the wide skies and horizons that are soulfully evoked by the text.

There is too much easily recalled to note it all; evenings thawing by the fire are as well drawn as the stumbling pains of rising before dawn in glacial conditions and then going outside; the perfectly described creeping panic that one sometime grips one's senses in wild lonely places, a distant echo of long evolved survival instincts; an interesting passing note on the sudden booms that are heard on the coast, described by the shore's inhabitants as "the sea calling the wind".

This is a fine evocative read and ought to appeal to anyone who loves the outdoors and especially the outdoors next the sea.

Books, fishing and otherwise 18th April 2020. 'Puswhisperer: A Year in the Life of an Infectious Disease Doctor' by Mark Crislip MD star rating 

I am something of a rational empiricist with a tinge of renaissance polymathy, so bought this on recommendation. It is really very good, a year's worth of daily 'blogs from the life of an Infectious Disease doctor in the USA. Being an 'ND' NDNot a Doctor. JAA is not a doctor, but in the book the term 'ND' is used pejoratively to describe: 'naturopaths', 'homeopaths', 'chiropractors' etc. etc....and all the other forms of petty charlatanism. Quack quack. does not preclude either learning a lot from this book, or enjoying it hugely or indeed, snickering at regular intervals. There is something on every page for ND's to take away, although it is certain that real medical doctors would learn and appreciate far more from this book than I. As an additional bonus, scorn and derision are heaped on quackery of every sort, and it is easy to infer the glaringly obvious problems that accompany health provision that is 'not free'. This is a particularly relevant message for the times; the UK has a fine National Health Service. Do not take it for granted.

Nothing to do with fishing. But still very much worth reading. Plus, what MRSA MRSAMethicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Obvs.  stands for is now committed to memory. Sadly, not the spelling though.

Books, fishing and otherwise 31st July 2020. 'Carp on the Fly' by Barry Reynolds, Brad Befus and John Berryman star rating 

I bought this on the back of a new whim for catching carp in a different way. It's written by American carp fly-anglers for American carp fly-anglers, but for all that, this is a very informative little book with much practical advice that folk in the UK, especially those who have fished for feral carp before the advent of stock pond carps, will recognise. It has a nice line in sly and self deprecating humour as well, something that far too little angling writing has.

Of course some of the fly-patterns described are modelled on the flora and fauna of the 'States, but the feeding habits of carp described will be instantly familiar to most who've only ever fished for them in the orthodox manner. So, I guess, while some of the fly-patterns and tactics will seem alien, a great deal is very recognisable. The carp are, after all, the same carp we have in the UK, descended from the same stock.

A neat informative little book, that reads well even for the general angling reader, a rare thing. Some of its advice will hopefully help this neophyte carp-fly-flinger.

hookJust another fish-hook...(and back to the top of the page) hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook It's a space. Accept it and move on. hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook