Sheringham Coarse Fishing

Hugh Sheringham - Coarse Fishing

Adam & Charles Black 1912

This is one of those books that demands a good-quality reprint, because it has some of the best writing by one of Britain’s best angling writers in it. Sheringham was the angling editor of The Field and he wrote Coarse Fishing as a protest against what he described as the ‘increasing specialisation’ of anglers, giving him an opportunity to poke gentle fun at the ‘Superior People’, who believed that one form of fishing was better than another. This makes Coarse Fishing kind of hard to characterise - on the one hand, Sheringham does (more or less) deal with all the species in a conventional fashion by telling you where they hide and - to a certain extent - how to catch ‘em, but he is by no means shy about diverting off into story telling, at which he was a master. Oh god, I’ve mixed my tenses, go to the back of the class, Herd.

I can’t think of anything better than giving you a snippet to read, so you can see what you are going to get:

On Monday you lean your rod (it is ready put up, you remember) on the wattled fence so that its top projects 18 inches over the water. On Tuesday you creep up and push it gently, so that the 18 inches are become 4 feet. The carp, we hope, simply think that it is a piece of the screen growing well, and take no alarm. On Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday you employ the final and great ruse. This is to place your line (the depth has already been plumbed, of course) gently in the water, the bullet just touching the bottom so that the float cocks, and the ~ feet of gut which lie on the bottom beyond it terminating with a bait in which is no fraudful hook. This so that the carp may imagine that it is just a whim of the lavish person behind the screen (be sure they know you are there all the time) to tie food to some fibrous yet innocuous substance. And at last, on Saturday, the 31st of the month, you fall to angling, while the morning mists are still disputing' with the shades of night. Now there is a hook within the honey paste, and woe betide any carp which loses its head. But no carp does lose its head until the shades of night are disputing with the mists of evening. Then, from your post of observation (50 yards behind the screen), you hear a click, click, which tells you that your reel revolves. A carp has made off with the bait, drawn out the 5 yards of line coiled carefully on the ground, and may now be struck. So you hasten up and strike. There is a monstrous pull at the rod point, something pursues a headlong course into the unknown depths, and after a few thrilling seconds there is a jar, a slackness of line, and you wind up sorrowfully. You are broken, and so home.

Bear in mind that this was before the days when method fishing for carp was routine and people cursed when they were bothered by thirty pounders. Coarse Fishing definitely is a good book and worth collecting if you enjoy Sheringham’s writing, or just as a good read.