Mark Walsingham - A Fool and his Eel

Freebird Publishing £30.00
ISBN 978-0-9562497-8-4

A massive tome, this one, quarto and weighing in at over 400 pages in full colour, with photographs by the author, Chris Yates, and by David Miller, who is also responsible for the artwork. Mark is an aquatic biologist with forty years of angling experience, probably best known for his ‘Ashmead Diaries’ in Carpworld, although he is an all-rounder with substantial conservation experience. He has a very engaging character, which is shown to advantage in this book.

The title comes from an old proverb, and it is more than a little misleading, because this is a book about carp and barbel with roach, tench, perch, salmon, trout and all manner of species thrown in, but scarcely anything upon eels. There is no real attempt at continuous narrative and what you get is a collection of very nicely written, if somewhat lengthy stories about days and ways and venues and fishing, illustrated with tons of pictures, a bit like Ashmead Diaries on steroids. The artwork is excellent, the pictures mostly good, the typography awful and the columns have been set too wide for comfortable reading, but if you are a fan of the Yatesian school of angling writing, A Fool and His Eel is a very fine example of the genre.

Review 23rd June 2013