'I only had one defining principle in writing this book,' says John Aston in his Foreword, 'to describe how it felt'. In that aim he has succeeded brilliantly. This is a book that brings to life over forty years of angling; it has very little to say about 'how to do it' but a great deal to say about 'why I do it' and 'what it felt like to do it'. Written in the form of an angling autobiography, it begins with boyhood expeditions to a pond in the shadow of the West Yorkshire slag heaps, and proceeds, via specimen-hunting trips to the bleak fenland dykes and forays to the lonely lochs of north-west Scotland, to the delicate business of conjuring trout out of the streams around the author's home in North Yorkshire. There is something here for anglers of all persuasions, John Aston is no fishing snob (rather the reverse, as he makes clear when he debunks the mystique of salmon fishing) and he writes with as much passion about the barbel, carp, perch and pike which he caught in the past as he does about the trout and grayling which now preoccupy his attention.
Indeed, non-anglers will find, if they can be persuaded to open the book, that here, at last, is a fisherman who is intelligent enough and writes well enough to explain convincingly why otherwise sane citizens become obsessed by fishing.
John Aston is a local authority lawyer who lives and fishes in North Yorkshire. He contributes to Trout and Salmon, Britain's premier game-fishing magazine; this is his first book.