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An angler's life is not compleat without this; CLASSIC BOOK CAN ENHANCE THE PLEASURE IN OUR SPORT.

Byline: angling MOC MORGAN

SOMEONE once said many many moons ago, that the best fishing was to be found in print!

Then, as a keen young angler, my initial reaction to the statement was to dismiss it out of hand, thinking it had been uttered by an angling scribe wanting to blow his own trumpet.

I couldn't have been more wrong and it did not take me long to realise the depth of wisdom in those words and to appreciate the immense pleasure one may gain from reading a good piece of prose or poetry about angling.

Recently, I was one of a group of anglers invited by an angling periodical to list my top-10 angling books and to briefly give the reason for my choice.

I decided to divide my choice into two sections.

Under section one, came the how-to-do-it books which keep anglers updated with all modern trends and any new developments in the angling world. Under section two, were the books that I love to read time and time again, primarily because they give such wonderful accounts of fishing and demonstrate what a pleasurable activity it is.

As it was an English periodical, I had to confine my choice to English books.

But there are books written in Welsh that also provide me with sheer enjoyment.

However, on reading the periodical I was surprised that many of the books chosen by others within the invited group had not appealed to me and there were several that I had not even read.

One has to admit that the English angling literature is pretty extensive and I doubt if any other hobby or leisure activity can compete with angling in its literature.

It seems that over the centuries the top book sale-wise has been the Bible.

And in close second a book on angling entitled, The Compleat Angler written in 1653 by Isaac Walton.

I first read this marvellous book when in my teens and still read it now - and yes it was on my list.

A good book never grows old as in every reading something new appears to take your fancy.

An extract like this is so well written, so descriptive and so memorable: "A fine dressed dish of fish or a rich drink he pronounced too good for any but anglers or very honest men. All that are lovers of virtue and dare trust in providence be quiet and go angling and sit on cowslip banks, hear the birds sing and possess ourselves in as much quietness as these silent silver streams which we now see glide so quietly by us" Also in my list was A Man May Fish by Kingsleigh Moore and A Fly Fisher's Life by Charles Ritz (the great hotelier).

My other favourites were on sewin fishing as the sewin is my favourite fish, though surprisingly in terms of angling literature, not much has been written about this enigmatic fish so revered here in Wales.

Dafydd ap Gwilym, the greatest of Welsh poets and the most renowned poet in Europe in the Middle Ages wrote an ode to the salmon greeting it as a messenger that would go to his mistress and tell her of his profound love for her.

His descriptions reveal his intimate knowledge of fishing and how in those days flies were used in the chase for salmon.

In the 1900s, two well-known Welsh poets who were also keen anglers wrote passionately about their hobby.

I refer to Dewi Emrys and Cynan both of whom were leading poets of their day and whose works have done Wales proud.

Dewi Emrys from Talgarreg fished the Teifi and was also a master fly dresser. His poetry has a unique quality reflecting with warmth and vivid descriptions and images the joys of angling.

Likewise, his fishing partner Cynan who also fished the Teifi as well as the rivers and lakes in North Wales. The quality of his verse is second-to-none and some of his lyrics have been translated into English.

His sentiment about returning from Paradise to fish the Teifi is very moving as he addresses his former sewin fishing partner with the words: "Fear not if I steal to your side as of yore "From Paradise streams to fish Teifi once more."

Although we live in a small nation, we can be proud when looking at the history of the printed word here in Wales.

In 1655 Henry Vaughan of Llansantffraed, near Brecon wrote a Sonnet to the Salmon - in Latin - to be translated later into English. It ends with what must surely be a great line of poetry; it describes the salmon on its way up-river coming face-to-face with an angler with a fly ready to deceive it.

"The weir is the world; the salmon - man; and the featherdeceit".

The written word can be so profound and can open one's eyes to untold joys.

The winter months are long and cold but they do give us the opportunity to leaf through our angling books and possibly realise that the best fishing is indeed there - in print!


A small selection of Moc's read-again books
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jan 15, 2013
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