It was a minor cause for celebration amongst anglers when BBC2 showed The Accidental Angler last autumn. Yes, a fishing programme on terrestrial TV - and a pretty good one too! The series followed the Angler-cum-Travel Writer Charles Rangeley-Wilson as he took in such places as Bhutan for the trout fishing, Mahseer fishing in India and somewhat quirkily, a wild urban brown trout within the confides of the M25 and not forgetting the depths of Amazonia.
The BBC released a book of the same name to accompany the series - though I suspect it is really a book of the series of the book! Somewhere Else by the same author was published in 2004 and I have a hunch it was the quality of the story telling in this volume that won Charles his TV series!
Certainly the trip a trip to Bhutan and the hunt for a London brownie appear in this earlier volume, however both books cast their nets much wider than the TV episodes. Both volumes have the same format - a series of short stories about fishing in far flung places - such as Croatia, Iceland, Russia, Seychelles, Quebec, Lesotho, Northern Territories, interspersed with tales of trips much closer to home (e.g. Dorset, Hampshire, Norfolk, Scotland).
The writing in both books is top notch. Charles writes with zest and energy in conjuring up the joys and frustrations of being on the road with a rod. Whilst his descriptions of the people he meets and the places he visits is highly evocative and at times irreverent his writing is at its most engaging when he is describing the actual fishing - as I think this short piece from the chapter on Norfolk Seatrout (in The Accidental Angler) illustrates.
“The fly swings round slowly. I don’t move it at all. I just let it hang in the current…
A blurred shape lifts off the sandy bed. Time slows. The trickle of water turns to white noise. The shape tips under the fly and opens turning white. The seconds unzip, open down the middle and unfold. Legs heavy, utterly transfixed, I lift the rod as the white hole closes and sinks back into the ochre water. My world implodes, the river erupts, the seconds zip closed again, tighten upandrushforwardandthis glorious, enormous, gigantifecking sea trout goes nuclear.”
I’ve read both these books ‘back-to back’ and have thoroughly enjoyed them - rationing my self to a chapter each evening before bedtime - I think they make the perfect bedtime read for an angler!
Happily both books are still in print. You can currently pick up both of them from Amazon for a combined price of £15.68
Somewhere Else - 2004 Yellow Jersey Press ISBN 0-224-06430-4 - Click here to see the latest Amazon price
The Accidental Angler - 2006 Yellow Jersey Press ISBN 0-224-07883-6 - Click here to see the latest Amazon price