Fish, Fishing and the Meaning of Life

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Penguin UK, Nov 2, 1995 - Sports & Recreation - 576 pages
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Jeremy Paxman has created the perfect literary catch for fellow angling enthusiasts in this rich and varied anthology. Ten thoroughly entertaining themed chapters include 'Ones That Got Away', 'Ones That Didn’t Get Away' and 'Fish That Bit Back'. Each is introduced by Paxman’s own sharp, humorous observations and features both contemporary and historical writing about fishing in prose and verse, covering everything from tench tickling to piranha attacks. Some pieces are well known favourites, others are obscure, every one is a delight.

'A superb compilation because it roams from carp to cod, trout to tarpon and does not regurgitate the same old clippings. Paxman has clearly read widely and wisely in putting this together ... probably the definitive anthology of angling writing.' Keith Elliott, Independent on Sunday.


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With reference to the demise of MV Tonna - could you not have got the Captains name correct?
A lot of license taken with the telling of this story about my father. KV


Testament of a Fisherman
Chub Fishing on Christmas Morning
A First Salmon
Flytying in Winter
The American Dream
Possessing Quietness
You Might Have Trepanned Their Heads
How to Make Silk Gut
Advice in Verse
Eighteenthcentury Carp Baits
A Hackney Takeaway
On Salmon Roe the Deadliest Bait of All
Catching Worms
Tips About Pyjamas
For a Fresh Supply of Maggots or Gentles

A Painter Recalls Golden Days in Brittany Before The First World War
A Spring Day in the Highlands
The Pulse
Victorian Paradise
A Mayfly Hatch
Eternal Mysteries
The Delights of the Chalk Stream
The River God
A Bobbing Reed
A ChalkStream Keeper Feels Guilt
The Charm of Birds
A Parsifalian Quest
A Rabbit
The End of a Days Dapping in Ireland
The End of the Day
Henry Thoreau on the Pond at Night
Ernest Hemingway Discovers The Best Rainbow Trout Fishing in the World
Brilliant Rainbows
The Delight of the Unknown
The Anglers Invitation
A Foreign Secretarys Escape From London
Old Buffers See Paradise
Hunting shooting and fishing ii
A War Reporter Decides to go Home
The Cleveland Wrecking Yard
Night Fishing For Bass
Chasing Dace in Edwardian Suburbia
The Harbingers of the Fishing Season
The Essential Bait
An Old Border Fisherman Remembers
A Pair of Otters at Work
Tarpon Fishing in Belize
His Brothers Last Day on the River
Reflections in Winter
Fun With Lampreys
Plinys Belief in the Extraordinary Power of a TwoInch SeaGudgeon
The Steelhead
Night Arrival of Seatrout
Summoned by Bells
A Tame Trout
A Shark Feeding Frenzy
Mark Twains Tale of How a Shark Made a Fortune
Small Boys Breakfasts
Carp Explained
Alternatives to Cooking
Herodotus Misunderstands Things
The Wondrous Whale
How Whales Make Love
St Anthonys Sermon to the Fishes
Laying Down Sardines
Disdain For the Chub and the Portuguese
Cromwellian Verbosity About the Roach
The Tench and the Pike
A Legendary Tench
The Enigma of the Eel
The Love Lives of Eels
A True Story About a Big Eel
Pining Perch
The African Tigerfish
The Alaskan Dallia Pectoralis
Indias Mighty Mahseer and its Role in the First World War
The Pike
A Young Pike
The Pikes Menu
The Pike
A Frogs Revenge on a Pike
A Grateful Pike
Meetings With Remarkable Congers
Cod as Messengers
Carp and Cognac
Death by Natural Causes
Well Not Exactly A French Newspaper Reporter Gets Overexcited by George Vs Fishing
Catching an Octopus in Ancient Rome
Octopus Fishing in the Gilbert Islands
American Indians Taking Catfish
Singing For Your Supper
Caribbean Turtle Fishing
Indian Salmon Fishing in British Columbia
Leistering in the Borders
The Life of an Eighteenthcentury Whale Hunter
Shooting Pike With Bow and Arrow
How to Snare a Pike
Izaak Waltons Notorious Humbug About Frogs and Pike Fishing
Live Frog Fishing for LargeMouth Bass
Bad News For Geese
Pity The Mullingar Goose
FlyFishing for Chub
A British Airman Reflects in a German PrisonerofWar Camp
Other Baits for Chub
An Oxford Plumbers Son
A Crane Divines the Secret of Angling
Sharkfishing in the Gilbert Islands
To Catch a Sturgeon
Eelswitching in Ireland
Bobbing for Eels
Whistling for Eels
Why Dumb People Catch More Trout than Smart People
Advice on Escaping
Stealing Childrens Toys
Drugging Fish
Selfpoaching Salmon
Night Lines for Trout
Taming a Mahseer
Tickling Trout
How to Tickle a Tench
Manhandling a Salmon
Deadly Live Baits
More on Worms
If You Dont Have a Dog a Badger Will Do
And if You Have Neither Dog Nor Badger
Using a Dolphin to Catch Mullet
First Principles of Fly Fishing
The Class Structure of Trout Fishing
The Principle of DryFly Fishing
How Far to Cast?
The DryFly Apostle Makes His Case
The Thrill of the Dry Fly
GEM Skues Meets Frederick Halford High Priest of the Dry Fly and is Less Than Impressed
Fish Autopsies
SeventeenthCentury Advice on Catching a Salmon
It Takes a Special Sort of Fortitude to Become a Salmon Fisher
The Truth About Casting a Salmon Fly
Striking a Salmon
If At First You Dont Succeed Throw Stones
Captain Mainwaring Praises Dynamite
Salmon Fishing With a Worm
The Joy of Trolling
Herodotus on How to Catch a Crocodile
And How They Did It Under The Raj
Some Advice Masquerading as a Sonnet or Vice Versa
How to Predict the Weather
The Anglers Commandments
But Dont Take Any Advice Too Seriously
Especially This
A 1928 Model A Ford
Some Advice on Literature From an Irishman
The Bare Essentials
What the Fashionable Fisher is Wearing
No Loud Colours
If You Should Have to Swim a Mile or Two
Examine Your Legs
The Disadvantages of Wading Boots
A Small Arsenal for Fishing on Exmoor
The Compleat Anglers Advice on Trout Rods
How to Make a Rod
The Best HorseTail Hair For Lines
Izaak Waltons Technique for Dyeing Horsehair Lines
More Tips About Maggots
First Find a Willing Ram A Bait for Mullet
How to Give a Carp a Hangover
The Fishermans Legendary Kindness
On Bread And Paste and Wine and Oxtongue
Keeping Spirits Up on a Visit to New Hampshire
The Importance of Tea
Why Size Does Matter
Two Moths for Night Fishing
The Fast Track to Divorce and Poverty
The Consolation of Strong Drink
He Had Never Seen so Big a Trout
A Night in the Blackout Tench Fishing in Wartime
Escapes After Capture
A Victorian MP Loses a Salmon in Norway
The Weight was Pulling Him Back Salar the Salmon is Finally Hooked
The Discipline of Carp
Something Wonderful had Happened A Tarpon Shows his Beauty
A Cockney Cocks Things up in Canada
Something Had to Give An Irish Pike
Failing with a Mahseer
I Believe You Ompolodged Boy HE Bates Uncle Silas Goes Fishing
The Bishop of Bristol Takes up the Story After Three Hours of Battle
A Blank Day in Abyssinia
A Famous EelPout
A Second Chance at a Salmon
Irish Leviathans
A Day Both Fishermen and Quarry Lost Whale Hunting in the Azores
Hunting Mocha Dick the White Whale Which Inspired Moby Dick
Georgina Ballantine Tells How She Caught the Biggest British Salmon Ever Taken on Rod and Line 64 lbs
Guile with Chub
A Self Satisfied Customer
Swimming for Tuna off California
An Eightyearold Boy and his First Fish
An Awful Poem
A Sickly Russian Schoolboy Catches his First Big Carp 1801
A Sturgeon on the Towy
A Brilliant Rainbow in Chile
Richard Walkers Record British Carp
The Record is Broken Again
A Loch Alvie Pike
A Singer Fishes a Chalk Stream
Doreen Davey Tells How She Caught the Biggest Spring Salmon Taken in Britain 59 lbs River Wye March 1923
The Sahib Has Dinner While Fighting a Mahseer
Taking a Record California Tuna
The Birth of an Obsession
An Ageold Complaint
The Delights of Adversity
A Catechism of Dangers and Defences
Three Letters to The Field
Swept Away in the Tay
A Fearless Test of the Dangers of Waders
More on the Dangers of Wading
How to Revive a Drowned Angler
JR Hartley Introduces Miss Craigie to Fishing
Driven Mad by the Pursuit of Pike
Evasive Action
Chief Moose Heart
Deschutes River
Catching a Cow
Jogging with a Bull
A Dictionary Defines Persecution
A Most Unfortunate Attachment
The Safety of Not Fishing
An American President Discovers Piranhas
Missing Fingers
Pike Attacks
Grim the Pike Has Her Revenge
How Hiawatha Caught the Sturgeon
A Victorian Whalehunter Recalls Being Swallowed By his Quarry
A More Plausible Account of What Happens to Those Swallowed by Whales
A Modern Captain Ahab
Stonefish Poisoning
Forget the Video
An Octopus and a Fisherman
A Cruising Rogue Shark
Shark in the Boat
What to Do If A Shark Attacks
How to Judge a Fishing Inn
The Offending Item
And Another Version
The Perfect Fishing Tea
More Food
Bent Bailiffs and Blindfolds
Some Really Bad Advice for Young Anglers
Myths About Patience
Solitary Vice
A Verse of Proverbial Excuses
An Englishman Patronizes Irish Gillies
And An Irishman Praises One
A Typical Gillys Tale
A Fine Scottish Gilly
An Irish Boatman Reveals a Secret
An Irish Gillie
But Your Life May Depend on Him
Oola of the Alta
The Gentlemans Gentleman
The Invention of John Macnab
Poachers Logic
Staying Solvent in Tackle Shops
Zen and the Art of Fly Fishing
A Procurer of Contentedness
And a Purifier of Thoughts
The Qualities Necessary in an Angler
The Earliest Rules of Fishing
Some Eighteenthcentury Fishing Laws
The Laws of Fishing 1803
Lord Byrons Celebrated Contempt for Fishing
An Anglers Riposte
Halieus and Physiecus Debate the Ethics of Fishing in 1828
Why its All Right to Kill Fish
Evidence in Support
Who Precisely is the Aggressor?
The Ancient Fear
Judgement on Matters of Which we Know Nothing
Do Fish Feel Pain?
An Eye for an Eye
Some Seventeenthcentury Theology
Biblical Symbols and April Fools
The Characterforming Benefits of Fishing
Calmness in the Face of Adversity
Be Duly Grateful
Is Fishing a Disease?
The Art of Lying
The Guiding Principle of Fishermens Tales
Dubious Monsters
Another Likely Story
And Another
An Irish Hare Plays a Salmon
A Retrieving Salmon
Lloyd George Cheats on His Wife
The Art of Excuses
Its All Relative After All
Keeping a Sense of Proportion
It Shouldnt Be Too Easy
Mr Theodore Castwell
Fishing for Sport Not For Glory
The Redneck Apostle
Why Anglers Make Fine Old People
The Fisherman
A Sense of Priorities

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About the author (1995)

Jeremy Paxman is a journalist, best known for his work presenting Newsnight and University Challenge. His books include Friends in High Places, The English and The Political Animal. He lives in Oxfordshire.

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