Over forty years ago Geoff Worrall offered me a job as his assistant at Tideline Books. Nothing came of it - he wouldn't pay my fare from Orkney, and I couldn't afford it. Over the years our paths crossed, buying and selling books to each other - Geoff died in 1997, but his business continued under other owners up until today. This week I bought the remaining stock and assets of Tideline Books, bringing together the two leading British field sports publishers. Tideline Books have been publishing books on wildfowling, deer-stalking, sporting dogs and guns since 1969, and many of their classic titles remain in print. It is going to be great fun finding a home for all those books (probably another forty-foot shipping container) and incorporating a lot of new titles into the Coch-y-Bonddu list. Watch this space - there will be lots of new books listed here over the next couple of weeks - many of them at bargain prices!
My real loves of wildfowling, rough shooting, duck and pigeon flighting, hunting snipe and woodcock, rabbiting are all getting harder to find - and harder to make time for. If it were not for the pre-arranged days of the local syndicate (and, in the summer, pre-booked fishing trips) then I would hardly escape the clutches of work, and particularly publishing. The publishing does, of course, have great rewards. It is a privilege to be able to channel the creativity of others (and to a lesser extent, of myself) and to produce something of lasting value. Much of the past couple of months has been spent on three authoritative works on classic salmon flies, all destined to meet their public at the BFFI early in February. The largest of these is Martin Lanigan O'Keefe's monumental catalogue of Farlows Salmon Flies, which will surely become the standard reference book for collectors of antique flies.
Colin Innes is carving a niche for himself as the historian of Scottish fishing tackle dealers, and particularly of the salmon flies of the north-east. His first volume in the Angling Monographs series, The Lost Salmon Flies of Balmoral, sold out in a few months. Two further monographs are both due to be launched at the BFFI - The Salmon Flies of James Harper, and another on the salmon flies and fishing methods of influential salmon angler, Ernest Crosfield.
Two of the three books are at the printer, and the third is now out of my hands, so perhaps I can now apply myself to sport. Unlike last year, almost all of our shooting days have been fine and dry. Birds are plentiful thanks to the hard work of our gamekeepers, and I have managed to keep the larder full. Rico managed to split a pad, hunting woodcock in clear-fell, a couple of weeks ago. These things always happen as we approach the end of the season and would really like to be out every day. Anyway, I rested him for a week, and then bandaged him up to go out last Saturday. That was successful so we are on course for a day's picking up on Friday and another day in Llanbrynmair on Saturday. And Duncan keeps reminding me that the rivers are in good order for grayling fishing - tomorrow?
The grayling weekend went well and our new book, Steve Skuce's Grayling Flies, was very well received. On Sunday I fished the Wilton Water on the Wylie, and caught some nice grayling, and on Monday I had a short session in tropical sunshine with our friend Jan Grimstone on the Test, catching some small grayling and having fun spotting some big trout and carp (!) in the clear water.
By Tuesday the temperature had dropped ten degrees. I spent two hours up to my waist in Cardigan Bay - by the time I waded ashore I was numb with cold. Came home with two mackerel (my first, I think, in November) and a bagful of parasol mushrooms.
Today we will be busy numbering and mailing the latest two volumes in our Angling Monographs series, Salmon and Science by Dr Derek Mills and Understanding Fish Vision by Prof Lawrence Threadgold.
Tomorrow I will take my very fat labrador, Rico, out of hibernation when we go for our first day at the pheasants!
Back from the Game Fair, and just about recovered, we have a few signed copies left of the two new sporting books that were launched on our stand over the weekend.
by John Thornley
"Fallow deer are acknowledged as being one of the most difficult of our six species of deer in the UK to manage effectively. Stalking Fallow is an extensive guide to the management and techniques of stalking fallow deer from the perspective of not only the deer stalker but also the deer manager and the land owner. It provides a unique insight into stalking both woodland and open ground and the techniques in the use of high seats. Covering all aspects of fallow deer management and their natural history, it includes how to organise and manage collaborative team culls, recognise and prevent crop damage, and take into account any health and safety issues, and disease identification. Stalking fallow is beautifully illustrated throughout by renowned wildlife artist, Ian MacGillivrary and is an essential definitive guide for all associated with the management of fallow deer."
At the Game Fair both the author, John Thornley, and the illustrator, Ian MacGillivrary, signed some copies for us. We have a few of these left for just £25.00 each.
Mint new hardback in dust-wrapper. Signed by both author and illustrator.
"A delightful compendium that every shooting person will relish full of fascinating facts, tips and advice, A-Z of game species and a mixture of classic shooting stories, both true and fictional. A glance at the A to Z section of quarry species gives a very good idea of the scope of the book, which ranges from the commonplace to the unusual. Of course, there are entries for pheasant and partridge (both grey and redleg), but also for black grouse, ptarmigan and golden plover, plus the various species of goose and duck. The author describes them in detail - their appearance, their habitats and their habits. He does not ignore the four-legged quarry either, as hare, squirrel and rabbit, for example are all included too. So whatever your chosen quarry, you will find an accurate description, as well as an unusual fact, a tip for improving your equipment or your technique, or a useful titbit of information that will not only stand you in good stead for your shooting day but also increase your enjoyment.In other sections, the author's sound advice covers all sorts of topics, from choosing your gun and cartridges, how best to look after your equipment, basic etiquette if you are a guest, hints for safe shooting and an invaluable list of 'keeper's tips', plus ideas about storing game. Interspersed throughout the text are anecdotes, shooting quotations and snippets of fascinating information; and, of course, there is a welcome reappearance of the characters from the fictional Glen Garron estate. We are also introduced to a previously unknown regiment, the Glamorgan Fusiliers, whose exploits and eccentricities will strike a chord for any reader with a military background. The author's ability to provide a carefully researched historical perspective to the sport of game shooting - the development of firearms and shooting techniques over the centuries - can only add to the keen shot's understanding of his or her sport. Facts are explained and myths exploded against a background of great experience and deep knowledge, but always with huge enthusiasm and a liberal dose of wit and humour. You are bound to find something within this very readable book's pages that you didn't know before: and whether you are an experienced shot or a novice, you will find plenty to inform, entertain and amuse. Should you be looking for a present to take to the host of your shooting day, look no further!"
Mint new hardback in dust-wrapper. Signed by the author.
Our new series of Angling Monographs are selling well. For anyone thinking about purchasing one of the quarter-leather editions of The Lost Salmon Flies of Balmoral by Colin Innes we would recommend doing so sooner rather than later - only two copies remain!
UPDATE 26/02/2016 - The de luxe edition of The Lost Salmon Flies of Balmoral has now sold out. Paperback copies still available.
Click here to see the full series.
We launched five books at the BFFI last weekend (four monographs and Philip White's Observation), and were joined by four of the authors. All went amazingly smoothly and we got all of the limited edition books signed and numbered. The monographs have turned out very well indeed - everyone was pleased with them, thank goodness! Saturday was pretty manic with all four authors signing books on the stand, but Sunday was steadier, and overall it was a great success.
It occurs to me that I ought to make it known that all of these books were wholly produced in Wales - originated and published by ourselves in Machynlleth, designed by Pete Mackenzie in Gladestry (just about in Wales!), and printed in Welshpool and Llandysul!
The BFFI will see the launch of OBSERVATION: A FLYFISHER'S GUIDE TO READING THE WATER by Philip White. Phil is well-known to BFFI regulars. He has been professionally involved in flyfishing for over forty years: as a river keeper on the Derbyshire Wye and River Lathkill; as a fly-tying and casting instructor; as a fishing guide; and in fishing tackle retail.
OBSERVATION is his guide to understanding the trout's environment, ecology and feeding habits. It includes step-by step guides to tying tried and tested flies that match the hatch.
Phil will be signing books on the Coch-y-Bonddu Books stand at midday on both days of the BFFI.
OBSERVATION is a high quality hardback and at only £14.95 you had better come early to ensure your copy!
Morgan's Marvellous Monographs are at the binders right now and we should see finished copies in a few days. All are looking great - three of our authors will be joining us at the BFFI and signing copies of their books.
This is what I said on my website last Spring:
"We will be at the CLA Game Fair this year, but it is very likely to be for the last time. Apparently organisations like the Salmon & Trout Association, the Wild Trout Trust and the National Gamekeepers Association will not be there because of the cost of taking a stand. The short-sighted CLA, by excluding these important countryside organisations, are excluding my friends and customers, will cause further decline in my business, and hasten their own inevitable demise."
Well, I was right, and now the void left by the CLA Game Fair is being vied for by four different organisations who are all boasting huge support - which is rather odd considering the fact that three of them have not even contacted me, and the fourth phoned and quoted me a price that would work out at £4000 for me to take a stand.
So, at the moment I'm planning a pleasant summer at home with plenty of time for fishing.
We have a busy schedule at the BFFI on 13th February. 10am on Saturday morning sees the launch of the first four titles in our new series of Angling Monographs. These are very attractive limited edition books on specialist areas of flyfishing. They are each limited to 250 signed and numbered copies and we have lots of advance orders.
Authors Peter Hayes, Keith Harwood and Colin Innes will be with us on Saturday, signing books – though Colin has to leave before midday on Saturday so if you want to meet him come early!
The titles being launched are:
1. Imitators of the Fly: A History. Peter Hayes.
2. The Lost Salmon Flies of Balmoral. Colin Innes.
3. Angling Books: A Collector’s Guide. Keith Harwood.
4. American Angling Bibliographies: An Essay and a Guide to Resources. Ken Callahan.
Later we will be joined by well-known angler and fly-tyer Philip White for the launch of his new book on matching the hatch, fly-tying and fly patterns for imitating naturals: Observation: A Flyfisher's Guide to Reading the Water. This will be launched at midday, and Phil will be signing books and meeting our customers.
November was filled with a succession of relatively small flyfishing fairs. They took up a lot of my time and, as usual, I missed the first couple of days on the pheasant shoot. None of the fairs were especially successful so maybe I should rethink how I spend my time next year.
Back at the office I was busy getting my annual catalogue printed and mailed, and making sure that we had good stocks of lots of unusual and interesting books for our customers. As well as that I have been working on my latest publishing project - a series of Angling Monographs, relatively small specialist books on tight subjects within angling, especially bibliography and the history of flies and fly-tying; it is great fun to work on subjects which I enjoy. The challenge I am facing is to produce a high quality and attractive series while not being able to make the savings enabled by printing large numbers. Some of these are going to have a very small (but select!) readership, and I am limiting the print-runs of all of them to 250 copies. The first four books in the series are well under way and will be launched at the BFFI in Stafford in February.
Fairs out of the way, I dug Rico out of his state of suspended animation and got out to do some beating and picking-up. Of course that was the signal for the heavens to open - and it hasn't stopped since. (We haven't been flooded yet, though it was up to the door-step last night). We have had some soakings on shooting days but it generally hasn't stopped us enjoying some great sport in beautiful surroundings.
This week, with a group of friends, I had a small driven day high up in the hills of mid-Wales. The rain stopped and we stood in sunshine as pheasants flew high above us. There were wild turkeys in the woods with the pheasants, and the keeper said that if anyone had a sporting opportunity to shoot one, that was OK, but the gun would have to pay a £30 fine to be given to the Air-Ambulance charity. I reckoned £30 was a bargain for a Christmas dinner so when the only turkey of the day to fly over the guns came over me it paid the penalty! A nice male - not huge - twelve and a half pounds - but I'm sure it will eat well.
Then yesterday I was back to beating above the estuary in the pouring rain!