BB was an expert fisherman and he had, beyond his great technical knowledge and experience, the power to communicate the meditative atmosphere which has always accompanied the art since early days. BB’s gift of descriptive writing is seldom seen better than in some of his fishing books.
He probably started fishing when he was four or five, in the farm ponds near his birth place, Lamport. But right through his student days in London and through the long years at Rugby School he fished regularly and he fished for coarse fish and trout, always despising the rather snooty attitude of some game fishermen towards their coarse-fishing cousins.
He fished rivers, lakes, streams, ponds, lochs and reservoirs, but rarely if ever the sea. For BB the sea was too brutal a place for the contemplative man’s recreation. Fishing at its best for him was a lonely business, ideally pursued beside some deep, forgotten pond or some wild isolated stream. In many of his ‘Road’ travel books, his greatest pleasure at the end of a long day on the road was to take his rod and try for a trout or two in a local stream to be popped in the pan for supper.
The greatest love of his life where fishing was concerned was undoubtedly the carp; indeed it has been said that BB was the father of modern carp fishing. It was he who created and wove the legend of this great fish’s guile in his book ‘Confessions of a Carp Fisher’ (1950), which even now, over 60 years after it was first published, with its expert advice about carp and carp fishing is a much prized addition to any fishing library.
The legends BB created around the character of the fish were nothing to the legends he wove around the character of the fishermen, portraying the carp angler as a wholly lovable yet entirely fanatical character prepared to sit out in all weathers for days and nights on end in the hope of a solitary bite from some great, bronzed leviathan.
Less well known is BB’s lifelong love for trout fishing which, like carp fishing, he insisted on pursuing in a carefree, even haphazard fashion. He often said that if he ever felt the urge to take the whole thing seriously - to search endlessly for the latest hi-tech angling gear - he would give it up.
Fishing for BB was a pleasure and a pastime, not an exact science. And it is the pleasure that he took in his days by the water that he records so well in all his fishing books.