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Fifty Years A Fisherman by John Wilson

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Reviewed by Terry Lawton

The notes on the dust jacket of John Wilson's autobiography, Fifty Years A Fisherman, describe him as being the UK's 'most loved and respected fisherman'. I am not sure that everyone would agree with either sentiment. Whilst I do not want to be accused of attempting to do-down someone who has made a real success of life as a fisherman, I cannot ignore the fact that he is not everyone's favourite angler - this goes without saying really - and he will never have my full respect until he stops handling with dry hands every fish that he catches for his fishing programmes. And wiping all the protective slime off them to make matters worse.

Some years ago I asked him about this when he still had his tackle shop, John's Tackle Den, in Norwich and got a very non-commital and unconcerned answer along the lines of that he had handled a wet landing net and so his hands couldn't have been completely dry. Utter bunk! At a time of increasing animal rights militancy and field sports coming under attack from many different quarters, it is even more vital that we treat - and show it - our quarry with the respect it deserves.

The game fisherman is not going to find the book of any specific interest - John Wilson admits to having always been a roach man - unless he has an interest in making his own fishery. The chapter and photographs on the work that he did to make his own lakes is very interesting and, looking at some of the photographs of other ponds and lakes he made over the years, he would have been a good landscape gardener.

He has certainly led a very varied and interesting life which includes fishing in over 60 countries, writing many books and for a large number of magazines, the experience of making radio programmes - there is some interesting reading here on a series he made in Norfolk - which stood him in good stead when he started his long-running Go Fishing series as well as his early days as a hairdresser on a cruise liner.

All those with either a catholic background or taste in fishing will find much to interest them in this book.

Fifty Years A Fisherman, The Autobiography of John Wilson. Boxtree £20.00

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