Saturday, September 18, 2021

With Net and Coble A Salmon Fisher on the Cromarty Firth

With Net and Coble is a beautifully written and engaging ode to salmon fishing and tradition by George Chamier. Due out 30th Oct 2021 from Pen & Sword, it's 208 pages and will be available in hardcover format. 

This is such a lyrical book which really resonated with me. It's full of recollections and reminiscences of a vanished and now outlawed method of sweep fishing. The author takes pains to distinguish the type of limited and skilled beach seine netting which follows salmon by eye and intercepts them in very limited numbers, and the sort of massive deep water drift netting which is responsible for the critical destruction and collapse of ocean biospheres we're seeing today. 

The book is peppered with black and white photos of fish and fishermen, wildlife, and the wild places. The captions are well written and provide some good background info. There's also a glossary and cross-referenced index.

Much of the book is somber reflection: the rivers are in bad shape, the ocean even more so, the traditional skills are dying out and at risk of being lost forever, the health of the salmon is at risk from commercial fisheries which serve as ecosystem destroying spawning pools for parasite loads with which the local wild populations are ill-equipped to cope. The book ends, reflectively, on a guardedly optimistic note. One of the more profound takeaways for me with this book was the fact that I was fairly complaisant in my ignorance of "netting bad, fly fishing good". The author writes passionately and well about the traditions of net and coble fishing and the loss of a way of life and it's clear that he has a deep and profound love of the wild places and a deep feeling of stewardship and protectiveness. 

Five stars. This would be a superlative selection for public library, home library, or gift for a nature/fishing enthusiast. Sublime wintertime reading material. 

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.  

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