The UK’s Fallon’s Angler is the sharpest magazine about fishing and writing to come out since Gray’s Sporting Journal in 1975. After all, it takes some braveness to bankroll a print magazine in this digital century. As he says, “Some of my friends think I’m two sandwiches short of a picnic to launch my own angling magazine.”
The writing includes some of the brightest young urban angling writers, including Dominic Garnett of the “Crooked Lines” blog, and Theo Pike, who published the highly regarded “Trout in Dirty Places” in 2012.
Each quarter, Garrett’s writers take readers to the intriguing and the far off, such as fishing for Atlas trout in Morocco’s mountains of the same name; or catching dorado by catamaran in Cuba. And I’m happy to say you can read my piece about carping in our river in this latest issue. It’s not available online, which makes it even more exotic. It’s worth a deep dive if you love longform journalism about fishing places you may only get to dream on. Better still, many of these stories may inspire you to actually pack up and go. Currently, mine would be to catch giant trout on Hottah Lake on the edge of Canada’s Artic Circle.
Here, an excerpt from Garrett’s 1994 musings:
“I like to take my fishing very seriously, planning everything down to the last detail and hoping in the process to catch some fish. Yet occasionally, for reasons unknown, the fish just don’t bite, and so I am consigned to hours of fruitless labour. But during these times I have earned some of my fondest angling memories, as I find myself lapsing into a state of closeness with the environment around me. I have sat there, on the banks of the canal, watching my float and wondering why on earth it has not dipped or slid under the surface in the past hour or so, when suddenly my eyes catch something moving at my feet, and a field mouse makes its way across my shoes. Once, when I was sure there wasn’t a fish within a mile of me, the biggest tench I had ever seen cruised from the depths to browse for offerings beneath my feet.
“The English writer Tom Fort has a theory about fishing, believing that somehow (using some super sixth sense), the fish waits for a lapse in the angler’s concentration, and in this moment of weakness, bites, removing the bait from the hook. There isn’t an angler alive who, during a fruitless session, hasn’t left his rod fishing by itself in order to empty his bladder in the local shrubbery, only to turn around and witness his (fishing) tackle sliding away into the depths, pulled by a great fish.
“I find sinking into the background of my surroundings deeply satisfying, but you only reach this point if you’re not thinking about it. Izaak Walton ended his later versions of The Compleat Angler with the words “Study to be quiet,” and surely these resonate with all anglers? The fact he was quoting Thessalonians 4.11 shouldn’t be held against him. He successfully makes his point with all the effort of a gentle kiss blown from the lips of a milkmaid.”