Fishing From the Rock of the Bay
I hardly remember life without a rod in my hand, writes James Batty in the opening sentence of his autobiography in fishing. When his American wife moved with him to Cornwall, she saw his family photo album and commented that there was hardly a single picture of him in which he wasn't fishing. This witty, wacky account is James' tale of his obsession with his hobby of fishing, wherever his work took him around the world, seeking out lemon sharks in the Gambia, Striped Bass in New York and salmon in British Columbia. James' genre of writing is a mixture of John Gierach and Bill Bryson: his style is wry, witty and incisive. The end result is an entertaining insight into the mind of a dedicated angler, full of fishing anecdotes, tips and thought-provoking ideas. Extracts from the book The great thing about anglers - especially when we meet fellow anglers - is that we don't try to hide our nuttiness. Pointless, I'm holding a rod, so are you, game over. We both know we're talking to a person who's a few bananas short of a bunch. When you reckon you're going to catch something, you make more effort. If you think the session's a lost cause, 'one last cast' translates into, well, one last cast. Unthinkable. If you feel you're in with a chance it reverts to its normal meaning: half a dozen chucks with the diving plug, then a few with the slider just in case, and ten minutes on the sandeel shad because you really never know. Guiding is not a job I'd do again, not as long as there's alternative employment cleaning out the grease traps at fast food restaurants or hand sorting the output of sewage farms. They'll take jelly-fry under an inch long when the water's full of plump sandeels, and I don't know why. But it's the mysteries that keep us fishing. The fish can't see my modest reel or my battered rod until it's too late to say, 'I have my pride, I refuse to be landed on that old shite'. My financial situation was as tight as a toreador's Y-fronts. Wave and weather are a mystery, like who's going to win next year's Grand National, where the stock market's going, or why people watch television shows about forgotten minor celebrities eating baboons' foreskins. Long range forecasts are as reliable as horoscopes, just less entertaining. Maybe the Met Office should juice them up, 'The month will be marked by deep Atlantic lows, even deeper discounts at your local supermarket. Don't be too proud to pick up some sausages.' Or they could tell the truth: 'Expect a combination of sunshine, rain, freezing fog, calm days, violent storms, blizzards, and perhaps a plague of frogs. Dress warmly but don't forget to pack a swimsuit.'
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