Book review: Henry Gilbey’s ‘Ultimate Fishing Adventures’

October 11th, 2012| No Comments

Book review: Henry Gilbey's 'Ultimate Fishing Adventures'

Here’s an early contender for your Christmas list: a new book by the name of Ultimate Fishing Adventures: 100 Extraordinary Fishing Experiences from Around the World. Now, there aren’t that many people who could do justice to a title like that, but Henry Gilbey is one such man. As a globe-trotting fisherman, photographer, journalist and author, Henry has ticked off more places than most of us could ever dream of, and the publishers, Wiley Nautical, did well to get him involved. 

Ultimate Fishing Adventures: 100 Extraordinary Fishing Experiences from Around the WorldFunny to think that once upon a time, not so very long ago, we relied exclusively on magazines and books like this to provide us with our fishing fix. Time would drag on endlessly between issues of magazines, and even then, info on exotic locations was sporadic at best.

Fast-forward to the present day and you’re never more than a few clicks away from the latest and greatest digital fishing magazine, complete with eye-popping reportage from the farthest reaches of the globe. And who among us hasn’t spent waaaaaaay too many hours slumped in front of YouTube and Vimeo, watching video after video of GTs crashing into flies on a Seychelles flat or bonefish tailing in the Bahamas. Like just about everything else you care to think of, fishing has been both celebrated and de-mystified by the free flow of information in the modern world. Whether that’s ultimately a good thing or not – well, everyone’s got their own take on that.

It does all make you wonder whether there is still the appetite out there for books about fishing. I can only speak personally, but for me the simple yes is an emphatic yes. Don’t get me wrong, I love the fact that I can tap into a wealth of fishing knowledge on any given subject with just a few clicks of the mouse, and I’d be lying if I said my Sky+ planner wasn’t filled fishing shows I’ve watched too many times, but there’s nothing that beats the solid, reassuring feel of a magazine or book in your hand. Ultimate Fishing Adventures is probably the sort of thing that will be filed neatly under the “coffee table book” category, but for me this is “right-next-to-the-bed” stuff.

This is an angling odyssey that covers everywhere from Alaska to New Zealand – with stops at the likes of Oman, Gabon and Japan along the way – and crams it all into 200 pages. Full-page images (most of which are shot by Henry himself) complement each of the stories, and it’s all written in that uniquely animated style of his. Sure there are occasions when you yearn for a little more than a single spread of photos, but that’s not really the point here. This is a whistle-stop journey through the world’s most spectacular fishing spots, and it’s designed to provide you with the impetus to go and discover a little more yourself.

But it’s not all tropics and trophies on the flats. Regular readers of Henry’s blog (and there are plenty) will know all about his passion for Ireland, and in particular the bass fishing along the Copper Coast. Unsurprisingly, that shines through vividly, with no less than nine chapters devoted to the Emerald Isle. For me, that’s one of the most appealing aspects of the book – Henry might have been lucky to enough to fish and photograph some of the world’s most remote and exotic locations, but he still seems equally excited about the waters outside his front door.

Recently I was dragged into that most wearying of conversations; the one where a non-fisherman sniffily asks you to explain what it is you find so absorbing about this hobby of yours. Next time someone asks me that, I might just hand them a copy of this book and tell them to read it for a few minutes. I’m pretty confident that’ll be the end of it.

If I had one gripe – and it’s a small one – I couldn’t help feeling that a foreword would have been nice. It’s a personal thing, but where anthologies are concerned, I’m always interested to hear a little from the author – why they chose the places they did, for example, or how the book came to be in the first place. But then, if you want to know about that, you could always read this.

>>Interested? Fancy winning your own copy? Great news: we’ve got three copies to give away. Stay tuned for the competition details, which will follow in the next few days

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