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In Search of Silver, The Greatest Writing on Atlantic Salmon Fishing

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Reviewed by Terry Lawton

Over the last 12 months or so I have had some interesting and enjoyable books to read and review. In Search of Silver, The Greatest Writing on Atlantic Salmon Fishing, is both interesting and enjoyable and contains some great fishing photography. Although the photography is of a high order, some of the casters' styles are not the best. As well as contributions that you would expect, there are plenty that are unexpected, for example salmon fishing in France in 1919 by Romilly Fedden.

This contribution is a good example of the cliché that there is nothing new (or at least very little) under the sun as Fedden refers to 'underhanded casting' 'which, in the hands of the master, sent the line with a great serpentine swoop to straighten far out across the river'. This is also an interesting piece on country life and field sports in Brittany nearly 100 years ago.

Roderick Haig-Brown writes well - as one would expect - on Iceland in 1969 and Art Lee describes an encounter with a terrifying Scottish gilly (sic). Fishing the Castle Grant beats of the Spey as a guest of the Earl of Kimberley, Art Lee writes that 'I was scared shitless of the guy.' and that he seemed to have no respect for anyone, including the Earl.

John Cole describes a wonderful indoor casting demonstration by Senator Joe Sewall in the Maine, USA, senate building, 'one of the most handsome governmental chambers in New England'. He then visits the Senator's wonderful fishing camp at the Upsalquitch Salmon Club in New Brunswick - fully stocked bar, glasses engraved with fishing scenes, book shelves filled with rows of fly-fishing essays, 'well planned luxury' - on the river of the same name.

Although Tom McGuane is a great writer and his book, The Longest Silence, was probably the best fishing book published in 2001, his piece on fly-fishing in Russia, Fly-Fishing the Evil Empire, is upstaged by John Cole and his piece Robinsonville, NB. After the Senator's demonstration, Cole's visit to the Upsalquitch is the story of a guy who had never cast a fly rod getting the ultimate invitation for two days of top class salmon fishing. He hooks a monster fish that shows twice 'so this was why we were here. I began to understand.' This is an unusual, different and gripping fishing story.

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