Scanning the fishing section of a good bookshop, usually you’ll turn up at least a few venue guides. All too often these are dry, bizarrely uninformative iterations. To be frank, the last time I bought one was an act of desperation, summer 2005. I recall nothing about that book now, having found it no more useful than my 1982 AA Guide to Angling.
Well, getting to the point,Trout in Dirty Places is nothing like these publications. Instead it is both interesting and inspiring with capacity to lead its reader on new paths of discovery. It is part venue guide, part historical account, and certainly, to paraphrase the forward by Charles Rangeley-Wilson, a celebration of river restoration, delivering urban riverscapes in the image of frontier and new hope.
Unlike its impoverished cousins, this book is written by an author with passion and vision. Theo Pike knows his stuff and works tirelessly to deliver a greater future for anglers and their communities. In this his first book, Pike sets down interviews, historical facts and anecdotes, alongside real fishing experiences in engaging accounts of 50 urban rivers across the UK. From the Wandle to the Kelvin, Witham to the Ballinderry, the breadth of Britain is covered.
Each of the book’s chapters describe a fishery in the context of social and economic history; the transitions from early abundance through exploitation and neglect at the hands of industrialists and oblivious communities, to new hope in the hands of conservationists and, with luck, an informed public. For each river, Theo has researched historical accounts. Contemporary facts are derived from interviews with those parties responsible for the restoration projects, education schemes, consultations and legal actions that form the path forward. He also employed the services of local angling guides to be sure of recording the best and most relevant fishing experiences available.
A consistent formula across chapters sets a nice rythum enhancing the read. Effectively distilled facts are positioned at the end of each chapter for quick reference. Details included are sufficient to get you started on any of the rivers covered, whether fishing, volunteering or both. If you reside somewhere away from the rivers covered you should find heart to search out urban fishing opportunities closer to home.
The book concludes with an urban fishing 101 and important safety information, remembering these are Dirty Places and sometimes as dangerous as any mountain torrent.
This book comes highly recommended.