Not Really Fishing

Edited by Denise Ashton and Theo Pike, Published by The Wild Trout Trust

Looking for a Christmas present for a fishing pal of taste and discretion? Or yourself, come to that? Well, I’ve just put down Not Really Fishing, a hundred pages of magic compiled by the WTT from the musings and memories of their literary membership. Denise Ashton, Theo Pike and Rebecca Hawtry have evidently and expertly put the little masterpiece together, and they and all the contributors are heroes in my eyes. A few of the writers are famous, Jon Beer and Pat O’Reilly notably, but every one of them has something beautiful and life-affirming to say. And I wonder if Andy Walker is THE Andy Walker I remember with affection from Pitlochry/ferox hunting days?

This tiny tome really is a shining example of less is more. It costs little more than a fiver. Each miniature essay is a mere hundred and fifty words or so, but every one is exquisite and every word is perfectly chosen. Otter love is a regularly occurring theme, and whilst this might amaze and enrage the commercial water carp angler, I’m up for otters too. I’ve spent thirty years watching them in the wild, on a daily basis back in my Norfolk days, and I’d agree they do little harm to wild fish stocks and that they do bring mystery and magic, that word again, to any day by the river. I’m also up for eels and barbel, two species that get their own mention alongside the trout. Barbel I adore for their golden-plated looks and their unbreakable spirit, so a personal thank you Mr Lunn for giving them a mention.

The glorious little tales are balanced by pages of fascinating facts, and I learned far more than I had expected to in the hour it took me to read the book. I hadn’t understood why it is a “charm” of goldfinches. I didn’t know arctic terns are called “sea swallows” and fly over forty thousand miles a year, and I was happy to learn more about ammonites in the Jurassic period. Being the glory hunter I am, I was especially gobsmacked to hear about Caspian trout coming in at a staggering hundredweight! Why was I not told this in my travelling days, and are they still waiting like Dreadnoughts for me out there now?

But it is the snapshots of riverside moments that will really stay with me for a very, very long time. I guess that most of the writers have reached the age when they realise that every second of existence is incredibly precious, that no single day can be re-lived and that every sensation must be drunk in and registered. These are essentially private recollections, and I for one am truly grateful that they have been shared. Buy the book and enrich a life is all I have left to say.

You can buy ‘Not Really Fishing’ from the WTT website shop price £5.99 plus £1.60 P&P.

Or via Amazon for £5.99

Incidentally, the Wild Trout Trust is already planning its next edition of this publication, maybe out next Christmas. If any of you would like to write a short story, around 160 words, about wildlife moments when fishing, send your contribution to Denise Ashton at

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