“…great rollicking reminiscences of derring-do in which the redoubtable VCW cheats death in several interesting ways to return, like the Famous Five, tired but happy — albeit battered, bruised and bloody as often as not.”
So says angling writer Jon Beer in a superbly entertaining article in Trout and Salmon magazine for October 2013, in which he retraces Vincent’s steps at the Corrieshalloch Gorge near Ullapool.
“I have grave doubts of his near-death-by-goat on the shore of Loch Dubh. And his near-death-by-dead-cormorant on Loch a’Ghille Ghobaich. But the scenes of these tales are real enough and without these stories I might never have fished the bewitching Loch an Nostarie behind Mallaig. Or made my way up the Corrieshalloch Gorge. So I have reason to thank the incorrigible
Vincent Carron Wellington.”
The book is replete with yarns of questionable probability, real locations described with variable licence, authoritative technical detail, and dropped, if minor, names. Have we whetted your appetite? Secondhand copies of Sporting Angler are readily found online at abebooks, including a finely-bound limited edition, and often with a handwritten dedication by the author to some friend or luminary of the time; or wait a while and we’ll have a complete facsimile PDF here. Some extracts are also to be found on the Assynt Angling Information website.
There survives copious correspondence between Vincent and his publishers, the distinguished Edinburgh house of Oliver and Boyd, over the two years preceding publication. The question of the book’s title seems to have exercised them greatly, with Vincent firing off his latest thoughts by postcard; the one arrived at (by his publisher) could hardly be bettered, for the book itself and as a metaphor for the author’s life. In this correspondence Vincent is addressed by (and doubtless cultivated) the nickname ‘Duke’, and nowhere does he drop the guard of his professed Highland origins. One senses a certain wry humouring of him from the other side. We hope to have some extracts to read here before long.
We don’t yet know when and how Vincent got interested in angling, but it is likely to have been during, and to have been facilitated by, his association with Lilian May Smith; it is difficult to see how he would have had the time or resources before he met her. It appears that they took refuge from London during the middle years of the Second World War at a comfortable house in Cirencester, in fly-fishing country; perhaps this is where his interest was kindled. The fifty years’ or so angling experience as a Highlander which he claims in his book may safely be discounted.
Do you have a copy of Sporting Angler? Is there an author’s personal dedication in it? And what are your thoughts about the book? Do let us know via the Contact page.