Boston: David R. Godine, Publisher, 2017,
First Edition. quarto, boards and cloth in dust jacket. 248 PP. David R. Godine, Publisher, New. Item #26763
Every activity generates its own literature, but few outdoor sports have generated as much enthusiasm and literature—some of it incredibly esoteric, most of it interesting, and some of it downright irresistible—as salmon fishing. It is not an inexpensive sport. All salmon demand clean, fastmoving, fresh water, and the Atlantic salmon, which often returns as many as five times to the same rivers to spawn and can attain weights of over sixty pounds, have seen their southern runs entirely eliminated by dams, pollution, and commercial fishing. What remains are the few closely guarded rivers of Canada, Iceland, Great Britain, and Scandinavia—all of them relatively inaccessible. All of them beautiful. All of them damn expensive to fish. Charles Wood, a distinguished antiquarian bookseller, has been pursuing these fish for decades, and he has also built up what is probably the most extensive collection about the sport in private hands. For this selective bibliography he has chosen 230 of what he considers the most interesting titles (some of them so rare that they might be encountered only once in a lifetime) and arranged them by country and publication date. All titles are illustrated. What makes the book a real pleasure is the knowledge he brings to bear—not only as a bookman, but also as a reader and a fisherman. He knows the rivers; in many cases he knows the people who fished them and wrote the books. And he knows what qualifies as quality, whether it is an elusive and fugitive mimeographed account of an excursion to a Norwegian river or a deluxe full leather quarto containing an original salmon fly. So this is no dry, pedantic list of “famous books,” but rather a fascinating and illuminating journey into a world of piscatorial lore, adventure, and description. With a certain, high level of fanaticism in mind, to call salmon fishing a sport, chess a board game, landscape painting a hobby, mountain climbing a hike, just doesn’t quite capture the spirit of the thing. And when the sought prize is Atlantic salmon, all bets are off because commercial fishing, dams, and pollution have so decimated the population, they spawn in only a few remote and guarded rivers of Scandinavia, Great Britain, Iceland, and Canada.
More accessible are the books about Salmo Salar (Atlantic salmon). What exists is a fascinating, esoteric canon of adventure, lore, treatises on flies, descriptions of clubs, photo albums, and fantastically rare accounts of grand ol’ fishing exploits. Antiquarian bookseller and passionate salmon fisher, Charles Wood has amassed the world’s greatest collection of Atlantic salmon works, and this beautiful coffee-tabler, much of it possessing a high level of historical value, showcases 230 of the most interesting.—Foreword. Very fine in a very fine dust jacket.