When it comes to describing the current state of their sport – not to mention predicting its future – many fishermen seem to feel duty-bound to uphold a long tradition of doom, gloom, grumpiness and pessimism.
All the way back in 1598, the brilliantly-named Thomas Bastard was committing his complaints to immortal verse, and if you read or listen to the contemporary angling media, you’ll probably recognise similarly apocalyptic themes today.
Still, at least one Wandle Piscator has frequently been heard to declare that we’re living in the golden age of fly-fishing, with more species to chase in more places than we’ve enjoyed for centuries …
… and on the present publishing evidence we’re inclined to believe him.
Certainly, when the proposals for Trout in Dirty Places and Flyfishing for Coarse Fish landed on his desk around the same time in 2009, publisher Merlin Unwin must have thought all his Christmases had come at once. And now that both books have been launched in the last couple of months, it’s hard to imagine how two entirely separate works could have been conceived to bracket both ends of the modern fly-fishing spectrum more neatly.
My own Trout in Dirty Places was written to guide dedicated trout and grayling hunters towards the counterintuitive joys of urban fly-fishing, while Dominic Garnett’s Flyfishing for Coarse Fish encourages progressive anglers of all persuasions to think more laterally about their usual techniques and quarry.
Trout in Dirty Places provides a full-colour snapshot of urban river restoration at the start of the 21st century, in post-industrial locations from Colliers Wood to Cwmbran, while Flyfishing for Coarse Fish imaginatively unlocks a whole new approach to species as diverse as dace, barbel, tench and zander.
Read together, it’s also difficult to think of two books which offer more positivity and hope for the diverse and inspiring future of fly-fishing, and summarise the interests of forward-thinking fishers like the Wandle Piscators more fully. So it’s probably no surprise that both volumes are already reported to be taking up residence in bookshelves and car glove boxes across south London – and much further afield.
If you’ve not already picked up your copies, Dominic and I will both be at the British Fly Fair International later this month, and we’re also both very happy to provide signed books by post or in person!