Roderick L. Haig-Brown authored his classic books, Fisherman’s Spring (1951), Fisherman’s Winter (1954), Fisherman’s Summer (1959) and Fisherman’s Fall (1964). (File photo)

Roderick L. Haig-Brown authored his classic books, Fisherman’s Spring (1951), Fisherman’s Winter (1954), Fisherman’s Summer (1959) and Fisherman’s Fall (1964). (File photo)

Column: Recommended books by respected B.C. anglers

Great Outdoors by James Murray

By James Murray


I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, The Gilly – A Flyfisher’s Guide, co-authored by 12 of B.C.’s angling authorities, is probably the best source of information there is on fishing in this province.

As with a lot of fly-fishing books, the first few chapters focus on the basics regarding gear and fly casting, as well as where on a lake to fish and what flies to use.

Rods, reels, lines, leaders and knots are all also covered in detail, as well as lake ecology and entomology ,which are discussed in a straightforward manner that even a novice angler can understand.

Subsequent chapters focus on specific food sources, insect life cycles, imitation fly patterns and fly-pattern presentation. The book covers a good variety of imitation fly patterns that were originally designed to fish Interior lakes and streams.

Although The Gilly has been described as a meat-and-potatoes sort of fly-fishing book, it is also the kind of book that can be read over and over again.

Fly Fishing British Columbia, edited by Karl Brun, is another fishing anthology written by a who’s who of angling and outdoor writers. The book covers just about any question one might have when it comes to angling anywhere in our province. It contains tons of intricately detailed drawings which depict exactly what happens when fish are feeding and moving about in their underwater environment. Other drawings feature more than 80 top-producing fly patterns, plus tying recipes and expert advice on how and where to fish them.

Roderick L. Haig-Brown has always been one of my favourite angling authors. He was a fly fisherman, a magistrate, radio broadcaster, university chancellor and conservationist who lived in Campbell River. He was also a prolific writer. The Seasons of a Fisherman is a marvellous collection of his four classic “seasons” books. Fisherman’s Spring (1951), Fisherman’s Winter (1954), Fisherman’s Summer (1959) and Fisherman’s Fall (1964) have now been compiled together for the first time in a single volume.

This book is about far more than just fishing and the trappings and traditions that go along with the sport of fly-fishing. I have read and reread all four season books many times. Each page draws me back to a simpler time – to an era when fishing was not so high-tech, and time spent casting a line was time spent communing with nature and breathing in the the peace and tranquility that comes with standing on the banks of a river.

In my mind I have stood alongside Haig-Brown and watched as the early morning mist rose from the water. Together we have waited for life to explode on the other end of our lines. While I may not have ever met Haig-Brown, in a way I have come to consider him a sort of fishing partner – standing just upstream.

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One person who did know Haig-Brown and has written extensively about angling in this province is B.C. writer, angling historian and steelheader Art Lingren. His book Fly Patterns of Roderick Haig-Brown, put out in 1993 by Frank Amato Publishing, described in meticulous detail eight of Haig-Browns most notable patterns. While the book is only 72 pages long, it contains a wealth of insights and information. Similarly, his books Fly Patterns of British Columbia and Famous British Columbia Fly Fishing Waters provide a wealth of information on fly fishing the lakes and streams of our province.

His Dean River Steelhead Journal, Kispiox River Journal and Thompson River Journal all highlight the spectacular steelhead fishing to be found in our province. All three books trace the fly-fishing history of their specific waters, as well as offer information on when, where and how to fly fish for the “fish of a thousand casts.”

If you look on the shelves in most good used book stores you will likely find a copy of some of these books as well as others, written by anglers who have taken the time to share their knowledge and passion for fishing. I know the time I’ve taken to read their books has most certainly enhanced my time on the waters.
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Outdoors and Recreation