Steve Parton: The Stillwater Revolution part 5: Journalism

I suspect that if EMAP who published for a while the Fishing Gazette, Angling Times, Trout and Salmon Magazine and Trout Fisherman Magazine – in other words almost all the significant periodicals carrying Stillwater Trout Fishing coverage - had not been based in Peterborough things might well have progressed very differently.

The Editors and writing support staffs of most of these periodicals went fly fishing on the critically opening waters in the Midlands throughout the 40's, 50's, 60's and 70's

And all journalists need new and exciting copy! It is what sells periodicals!

It didn't take long for the working fishing journalists of the time to identify exactly which fishermen were actually doing the development in tackle and tactics and catching significant numbers of trout. They learned from them and wrote about them if they couldn't persuade the great ones to do the job themselves! And occasionally they ghost wrote the articles for them.

Flyfishing writing is bedevilled by folks who just want to see their names in print - frankly, many of the fools will write for free and it is the job of a good editor to sort out the ones who actually can fish from the ones who can't, but wish they could!

It should not be forgotten that for a while Tom Ivens and Peter Tombleson were angling journalists who both wrote books about fly fishing. As a little later were effectively Dick Walker, Geoff Bucknall and Brian Clarke.

Trevor Housby is well worth a mention because he was heavily involved in writings about smaller fisheries. The Dog Nobbler approach to things certainly livened up an otherwise initially moribund scene until his sad early death in the late 80's And so did Alan Pearson's articles – whether credible or not!

Publicity did a vast amount to cause the Stillwater Explosion - and Periodicals were at the forefront because so few fly fishermen get inspired from books. Before you set out to write a book it is as well to have caught a lot of trout - Dick Walker told me once that around 1500 over a 5 year period was the minimum requirement and I see no reason to doubt his basic judgement - though I'd prefer to see more over a longer time frame.

But a very good and meaningful article can be written on far less research and many of the significant articles in that period were effectively written about a good single day's sport. Angling journalism is about yesterday not yesteryear. There was a great deal of good Stillwater writing published over a relatively short period of years - it had its effect.

I am certain that if EMAP had been based in say Exeter much less might have happened and probably great fishermen like Cove and Shrive would have been as unsung as some of the great fishermen from the Bristol area are currently.

Next week: A look at the tackle that changed the way we fish.

Steve Parton needs no introduction to the UK readers. Midlands reservoir angler, obsessional float tuber, author and "in the trade", Steve owns Sparton Fishing Tackle (drop by for a visit!) and is well known in the UK for his in-depth flyfishing knowledge.

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