Australian Fishing Books - A list and guide to values
by Jim Findlay
Until the publication in 1991 of Bob Dunn's 19-page Bibliography in his Angling in Australia: Its history and writings (pp.292-311) a beginning collector was very much working in the dark. Dunn's book is a masterpiece of scholarship and his bibliography, a selective list of all reasonably accessible publications on the subject, continues to be an outstanding reference for collectors of quality books about fish and fishing.
In contrast, Australian Fishing Books began as a very modest project. My plan was to build on the Dunn bibliography in two ways: to add a short list of older titles such as James Coutts Vacation Tours in New Zealand and Tasmania (1880), and to list quality books published since 1991. But over time I became committed to the idea that every contributor helps to build a body of work. The word selective defines the Dunn bibliography; inclusive better defines this volume.
In compiling Australian Fishing Books the net has been cast somewhat wider than for Bob Dunn's Bibliography. The 2004 first edition listed some 1,400 titles. This second edition lists a further 600 or so, and provides an increasingly complete picture of Australian fish and fishing in print of interest to anglers and collectors. However, any list must have its limits.
Australian Fishing Books will not teach you how to rig a fishing line or guide you to the best streams. It will not acquaint you with the history of acclimatisation or make you long for that trip to Kakadu. It is a book for men and women afflicted with a passion for books about fish and fishing. Chances are you have the affliction. You may have even passed the early stages of casual interest and occasional acquisition; just reading this book is powerful evidence that you, too, have become a collector.
An example of the listings.
Slater, R. (1904)
Rod and Line in Tasmania. Launceston Examiner: Launceston, Tasmania; 70pp. Allen and Slater was the leading Launceston fishing tackle firm of the time. The 1906 edition includes an introductory chapter on the rivers and lakes of Tasmania together with numerous poems and articles on Great Lake, Ben Lomond, Whirlpool Reach, Mersey, South Esk, Duck Reach, Supply River and so on. There are also chapters on Dry Fly Fishing, Camping Out and Opening Day. Rare. Auctions: Dunn $1900 (2003; signed); Joseland Society $1350 (August 2005; poor copy). $1150 - $1500
1906: Rod and Line in Tasmania. Launceston Examiner: Launceston, Tasmania; 12mo; 115pp; 3 leaves of plates; illustrated. Rare. $1100 - $1400
2001: Rod and Line in Tasmania. Facsimile of the 1904 edition by Stevens Publishing; 12mo; 70pp; buckram with gilt on spine and gilt motif on front board; contemporary advertisements. $125 - $145
n.d.: soft cover facsimile of 1904 first edition. No publisher stated (but a professional production), no date; 12 mo; stapled soft cover. No other information.
Sloane, Robert (1983)
The Truth About Trout: Observation, presentation and the functional fly. Tas-Trout Publications: Rosny Park, Tasmania; 8vo; (xii), 178pp; illustrated, including 16pp of colour plates; hard cover; dust jacket. The doctrine I preach, writes Rob Sloane in the preface, is more than just the involvement of a biological base for trout fishing, it encompasses an overall attitude towards observation, learning, and experimentation on the part of the angler. Someone wrote once that angling literature is contributed either by fishers who write or writers who fish. Rob Sloane has a foot firmly in both camps and he brings a third dimension, that of academic, and it shows. This is a great book, innovative and persuasive. In the comparatively short time since its publication it has become a classic of Australian fishing. Fine or better copies are in increasingly short supply. Auctions: Grey $32 (1991), Jowett $90 (1999), Dunn $170 (2003), ebay $200 (2004). ISBN 0959202102 $175 - $225
1988: reprinted in soft cover. Auctions: ebay $51 (March 2006). ISBN 0959202110 $40 - $50
Sloane, Robert (1989)
More About Trout: An appreciation of fly fishing for wild trout. Tas-Trout Publications: Rosny Park, Tasmania; 8vo; (x), 148pp; colour and black and white illustrations; hard cover; dust jacket. Auctions:
Dunn $35 (2003). ISBN 0959202129 (corrected) $25 - $40; current printing $21.95