For bibliophiles mainly.
Conversations with Walter Hingley prompted me to bring out my favorite old fishing book: a copy of Thomas’s The Rod in India that I got from fishing writer Datus Proper, with its gold embossed figure of an Indian angler and a mahseer on the cover.* (Click all to enlarge).
The mahseer was sometimes called “The salmon of the Raj” but it is more like a tarpon (though known for strength more than aerial acrobatics). Walter found the photo; the other from Thomas.
I wrote to Walter, who had told me of another book with “Circumventing the mahseer” in the title: “My copy of Rod In India is pretty remarkable — I haven’t looked at it in a long time. It apparently belonged to someone named Woods who was a member of the Rangers in Meerut and signed the flyleaf in March 1899; he also has some tackle opinions with which he has annotated the text. The illustrations are fabulous and there is a chapter on fishing with otters which compares, perhaps, with the one on cormorant training in Salvin’s falconry book of the same era. The chapter “Circumventing the mahseer” seems to be his own writing; perhaps it was an irresistible phrase.”
They also have a version of my favorite, if never chic, fish, the monster cat.
Today they still fish for several species of the mahseer, these days mostly catch & release. I am piscivorous, but the magnificent and threatened (and allegedly inedible) mahseer needs help…
Books like this transcend fishing and evoke a lost world. They sit on my shelves with contemporaries & friends like Kipling & his father and “EHA”‘s whimsical natural history (last a gift from David Zincavage).
* Notice BTW the swastika- like pattern on the Navajo rug in the background, a common motif in both American Indian and Indian design– both Kiplings used it– before the Nazis perverted it.