Caught by the River

The Little Egret Press

29th August 2014


One of our favourite collections of angling writing to be re-published by Tom O’Reilly of St.Germans:

Gone Fishing by William Nathan

Press release: This forgotten classic is a wonderful book of lost carp lakes, pike pools, wild bass coastlines and soft sea trout rivers is the perfect fireside read. Gone Fishing is a limited edition book to just 280 copies and 10 very special leather bound copies.

The author of this entertaining miscellany, Gone Fishing, is himself an all-round fisherman, though with a particular fondness for trout, bass, carp and pike. In a mood of delighted reminiscence he writes of the great sea-trout of the Sussex Ouse; the leisurely capture of carp in a provincial lake; the splendid bass of the Gower peninsula. He takes the reader angling for grey mullet in a Pembroke mill-pool, and shares encounters with giant eels in a marsh lake, the catching of brown trout in Welsh brooks and rivers, the fever of pier fishing for whiting at Swansea, and introduces him to a surprising pond on Hampstead Heath. William Nathan writes in a direct, personal, eager way, without rigidly technical exposition and with considerable humour and narrative ability. He makes fishing come alive, even for those who may never see a fish except on fishmongers’ slabs. It is refreshingly clear that he is a real angler, one who goes fishing whenever he can (and often when he should not) simply because his instinct to do so is irresistible. Similarly, he writes for the pleasure of reliving his own experiences; and it is largely due to his honest compulsion that he is able to communicate the essential joy and drama of the hooking and landing of fish in the countryside, by the sea, and even in urban environments.

Foreword by Paul Morgan

Like William Nathan, I spent as much as possible of my boyhood fishing, and when compulsory education forced me away from the waterside and into civilisation, I spent a good deal of time at the local public library. I carried angling books home by the armful, to be read by dim torchlight under the bedclothes when I was supposed to be sound asleep. Like Nathan I struggled to relate to the experiences narrated by elderly retired colonels, high court judges, and members of parliament, as they matched the hatch on southern chalk-streams or battled with portmanteau salmon as a be-kilted gillie stood at hand with the gaff. We both enjoyed reading of such exploits, but they seemed even more remote from my Black Country canal banks than did Jim Corbett’s breath-taking encounters with man-eating tigers in the jungles of India. I did find some books on less exotic angling. Indeed, one author came from nearby and talked of the towpaths and subsidence pools that I knew and fished, but even Maurice Wiggin was a toff, from a family of factory owners, and himself, by then, a famous writer in London.

Then, within the space of one year, the library obtained two books written by ordinary working chaps, both from far-off South Wales. Clive Gammon in Hook, Line and Spinner, and William Nathan in Gone Fishing, both wrote of boyhood coarse fishing experiences to which I could relate, as well as of their aspirations and gradually widening experiences of hunting for bass and mullet, sea-trout and salmon. Both wrote beautifully, in simple straightforward language, and as I read them, and read them again, I knew that one day I would follow in their footsteps and fish the wild shores of Wales for the elusive hunters of the tides.

Nathan and Gammon (and Wiggin, too), have remained within arm’s reach of my bedside for over fifty years, and more recently I have turned to them more for their evocative descriptions of the gentler side of angling, of tench and rudd, of mullet, and setting night-lines for whiting and codling. When Tom O’Reilly told me he was producing a new edition of Bill Nathan’s book, I retrieved my well-thumbed copy, and was soon once again immersed in his stories of park-lake tiddler bashing and eel-hunting in tidal marshes. I had forgotten how wonderfully well Kenneth Lindley’s woodcut illustrations enhanced and complemented Nathan’s tales. Together they produced a portrait of angling that has delighted generations of readers and well-deserves to be once more made available.

Order a copy here.

Gone Fishing is 210 x 148mm in dimension, and is over 180 pages long. The book is richly illustrated with original woodcut illustrations by Kenneth Lindley

Limited Cloth Edition: 280 copies only, all signed and numbered by the publisher, Tom O’Reilly M.A., @ £26.95

Leather Bound Edition: 10 copies only, all signed by the Author, William Nathan, numbered and hand-bound by Tom O’Reilly. This edition is fully leather bound, comprising hand painted fore-edges, oasis goatskin leather, spine bands, marker ribbon and headbands. This edition is finished with gold-tooling detail, and presented in a slipcase. £185.00

Publication date: Sep, 2014
Pages: 180