Brook Landis - American Coarse Angling

Celtic Moon Publishing Inc. £16.99
ISBN 0-9662626-0-3

Coarse fishing is alive, though not well, in America. Though the tendency is to think of the US as a mecca for fishermen, numbers, if the author is to be believed, are falling. Why? Well, American anglers are fixated on game fish which are expensive, distant and difficult – yet the fishermen who pursue them routinely drive by some of the best coarse fishing the planet has to offer. Pennsylvania alone has sixty different species of coarse fish split among fifteen different families and yet, according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service surveys, 95% of all angling effort is directed at two species: bass and trout. Clearly, something has gone wrong.

To an extent, that something is the media revolution, which offers today’s youngsters pastimes a little more diverting than a trip to the diner for a soda and a burger, but that isn’t the whole story. As Ken Cameron has pointed out at least once in Waterlog, a dark undercurrent mitigates against American coarse fishing, which is a shame, given the abundant opportunities that are on offer. It is almost as if there is a conspiracy of silence - the only books I can recall on the subject are Marcus Goldman’s ‘In Praise of Little Fishes’ and Buffler and Dickson’s ‘Fishing for Buffalo’ – and coarse fishing tackle is almost impossible to obtain in the US.

If any American readers want to know what they are missing (and if you subscribe to Waterlog, the knowledge can hardly have passed you by) this book shines a chink of light on ‘trash fishing’. In 216 pages, the author can only skim the surface, but close enough to make what swims beneath seem interesting.