Thursday, 8 October 2015

The Riverflow

The PAC annual Convention took place a couple of weeks ago and as usual it was a cracking day and night.  I spent most of the day helping Mark and Gary on the PAC products stand which was a bloody good laugh as always.  I didn’t manage to see any of the talks but I rarely do.  From what I heard all three went down very well.  In between talks the trade hall was buzzing and all the traders seemed happy.  The bar was also very busy but you wouldn’t expect anything else.  After the convention all involved have a chance to let their hair down with a glass of beer or six and this opportunity was gleefully embraced.  A pub full of Pikers is a great place to spend an evening and all left suitably refreshed.

I’d planned to pick up a shiny new fishing book at the convention and due to surprise circumstances I ended up walking away with two.  I remember reading articles by Dilip Sarkar in some of the earliest ‘Pikelines’ magazine but the name seemed to drop out of the Piking scene.  A few years ago Dilip and the Sarkar family reappeared with a bang and his love for fishing running water was obvious.  Having written almost forty books on Second World War history it was almost inevitable we would see a book called River Pike by Dilip Sarkar. 
No angler, no matter how dedicated could possibly write with experience about all of the various types of river we have in this country.  So while Dilip himself writes about his own local rivers he has sensibly recruited several other river Pikers from around the country to share their experiences.  Each writer brings a different approach, not just to the fishing but also the format of the chapter. 
However the first half of the book is mainly written by Dilip and focuses on the Midlands Rivers, Severn, Wye and Avon.  There are overviews of the rivers, a bit of history which tells each reader how the rivers characteristics came to be.  Then follow insights on how best to tackle them and several anecdotal pieces sprinkled in too.  As ever, a method that works on one piece of water may not be as effective on another.  Other writers help out here too with good contributions from Chris Leibbrandt who covers the Tidal Severn, Martin Mumby with a great tale of a Wye monster and Steve Bown on his beloved Avon to name a few.  An angler who has never tackled these waters would definitely get a good insight into how to go about it and sensibly attention is not drawn to any particular areas.

From a beginning in the Midlands the book then ventures mostly south and eastwards.  The Fens and Broads already have recent books dedicated to them so these areas are only really covered in brief but in Denis Moules, Paul Belsten and Stephen Harper you couldn’t pick any three people better qualified to do so.  Almost all of my river Piking has been done in this area and it’s nice to see some familiar waters featured, some famous and others not so.
Small river big Pike
 Phil Wakeford describes his fishing on the Thames, a river I’ve fished just the once but enjoyed a good days piking.  I particularly liked Bill Rushmer’s description of his one-time Thames record Pike, what a fish!  In the introduction Neville Fickling is described as “the Godfather of modern Pike fishing” and he writes about his experiences fishing the Trent.  Nev bears no resemblance to Marlon Brando but his chapter is excellent.  I was a little disappointed that the Wessex rivers weren’t given greater coverage but the two anecdotal stories by Terry Theobald and Jerry Lloyd are both very good.  The book only travels northwards on one occasion but ‘Dangerous’ Dave Greenwood’s chapter on the Yorkshire Ouse is my favourite piece in the book.  Not only were Dave and friends pioneering a water new to them, they did so trolling lures.  A method that at the time was new to them too.  I followed a similar path on some fenland rivers several years ago but without Dave’s spectacular success.  Pat Henry tackles his adopted River Shannon and gives a great account of how tough it is to tackle Ireland’s greatest river.  With perseverance and dedication there are still unknown monsters out there. 

A theme running through this book is just how demanding river Piking can be.  It is a world away from sitting in comfort behind alarms on a stillwater.  Yes this approach can work on rivers but consistency requires a much greater physical and mental effort; you need to get up off your backside and get moving, a lesson it took me too long to learn.  My own favourite venue is a river system but I don’t really consider myself a river Piker?  The effort required is at least the equal and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Challenging fishing = interesting fishing.  Over the years I’ve caught Pike from fifteen different rivers including many that feature in the book so I share the buzz and passion of these Piking writers.

River Pike is published by Harper Fine Angling books so is laid out by the master Stephen Harper himself.  Stephen has a reputation for producing books that are not only great reads but are beautiful to look at too.  Straight away it is obvious this book has Mr Harper’s magic touch, it is full colour throughout and has countless great photos of fantastic Pike and fabulous scenery.  This book was not originally on my radar when I went to the convention but is a very good read and sits well amongst the favourites on my book shelf.

More details here;

My Pike season has well and truly started and so far has gone pretty much as expected; it’s tough and challenging, more so now than ever. I expect to take far more photos of scenery and wildlife than I do Pike this season but I’m up for it.  So far the scenery and wildlife have been very good…


James Hinley said...

It's a fantastic book. I have a good collection of pike books, most are average at best but this one is excellent. I'm a river angler / piker and understand how difficult it can be at times, a 20lb river pike is a much greater achievement than its Stillwater relation. This book portrays that feeling well, and there's a chapter in my neck of the woods (Yorkshire Ouse - ok I fished a couple of tributaries of it) which makes it even more interesting.

Michael Hastings said...

Reading another "Harper book" at the moment, watch this space... Agree, you can't beat wild waters!