Fishy reads this Christmas

With Christmas just a few days away I suspect many anglers are still wondering what their long suffering other halves are likely to come up with by way of a present or two. New items of tackle are always welcome but non fishing partners can seldom be trusted to buy the right thing and they should certainly not learn just how much we spend on our obsession. Personally I’ve always found fishing books to be a safe bet and there’s been some crackers published recently.

It’s been my pleasure to contribute to Mike Cutler’s Red Eye, which is an excellent canter through tench fishing both old and new, and Chris Turnbull’s Crucian Renaissance which chronicles our successful campaign to give this lovely little fish a brighter future. Both of these are great reads, as is Steve Harper’s The Mightiest Mahseer for those interested in the history of one of the hardest fighting freshwater fishes on the planet.

However, all these titles have had plenty of promotion so I thought I’d give a plug for two lesser known angling books which are well worth putting on your Christmas lists.


The first is Lifelines, an anthology of angling anecdotes – complied by Nathan Walter & Rod Sturdy. With a foreword by John Bailey and individual contributions and personal tales from a fine range of writers including Paul Whitehouse, Chris Yates, Dave Stueart, Peter Cockwill, Hugh Miles, Luke Jennings, Dom Garnett, Charles Rangeley-Wilson and more, this book has something for everyone and seeks to capture the essence of angling. I’ve even heard it described as ‘a modern Red Letter Days’ which, for those who remember that superb publication, represent high praise indeed.

Best of all Lifelines is raising money for two great causes. The NHS, who have been there for us during these dark times and Lisa Wilson’s foundation to bring more children into angling and to explore the benefits a closeness to nature can bring.

Nathan Walter – co author of Lifelines and a fine angler in his own right

I love books like this one which are so much more than mere instruction manuals or ‘look at me’ glory exercises. The contributions get to a deeper place, closer to the soul of what makes our sport so special and a little nearer to explaining just why we are gripped with this lifetime obsession.

John Bailey sums it up well when he writes:

“Has a book in any time or place been more timely or more needed?

And hats off to Nathan and Rod again, because they have intuited exactly the type of book anglers are in need of during this pandemic. Yes, we do learn from how-to-do-it tomes but to be honest, it is the actual, vivid angling experience that we love and take with us in our hearts.”

Lifelines is available here –

Mick and Me

Mike Townsend (1971 – 2019) just may be the greatest coarse fisherman you’ve never heard of, or if like me you shared his obsession with big river roach, he may be the angler you wished you were. Sadly, Mike died far too young and never got to complete the fishing book that he had inside him and which his enviable list of specimen fish deserved. A popular figure in the South Yorkshire angling scene, who also travelled far and wide in search of big fish, Mike was never short of angling friends. And when the shock of his untimely death had subsided two of his best mates stepped into the breach and using notes from his computer and texts from his phone, together with a library of shared photos of some wonderful catches, they crafted the book that Mike would have written had fate not been so cruel.

Top Yorkshire angler Bob Roberts – a great friend of Mick – co wrote the book in memory of his mate’s angling achievements

So hats off to his childhood friend Martin Abonyi and Yorkshire angling legend Bob Roberts for this true labour of love which represents a fitting tribute to this fine angler and lovely man. I only met Mike the once at a book launch down in Reading but I was immediately struck by his knowledge, his passion and his decency. There was no hint of ego – he was just very good at doing what he loved and was happy to share his experiences for like minded souls.

Mick Townsend (centre) with Martin and other roach specialists at the launch of ‘Big Roach2’

As Bob Roberts explains:

“It can never be the book he would have written but it can be pretty close. The one thing it cannot do is go beyond the 2018/9 season but it doesn’t require a crystal ball to predict he would have continued catching wonderful fish from all over the country. A lot of specimen fish can sleep easy now they know ‘Big Mick’ won’t be on their case.”

For all these reasons this is a fishing book with a difference and I strongly recommend it for anyone interested in learning what it takes to track down some of the finer fish that inhabit our waters. I also like the idea of supporting an example of true friendship which encapsulates the very best in angling.

Mick and Me is available here –

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