Ring of Bright Water

"He has married me with a ring, a ring of bright water

Whose ripples travel from the heart of the sea,

He has married me with a ring of light,

the glitter Broadcast on the swift river."

Gavin Maxwell

It is hard to recall completely how captivating Gavin Maxwell's book was when we first read it as children. And, despite the fact that otters have decimated some fish stocks and that Maxwell was a complicated, flawed individual, the magic of the book has stayed with us. 

Having survived dressing our children up for World Book Day last week we've been talking about great fishing books. Here are our top few - the first is for children, the second three are for later in life:

Rod and Line - Arthur Ransome

A collection of Ransome's fishing columns from the Manchester Guardian published in 1929 and written before Swallows and Amazons made him famous.

A River Runs Through It – Norman Maclean

Maclean writes at the end of the book that he is "haunted by waters," and readers have been haunted by his novella. A retired English professor who began writing fiction at the age of 70, it was worth the wait: Maclean produced one of the classic American stories of the twentieth century.

The Longest Silence: A Life In Fishing - Thomas McGuane

A compelling portrait of joyful, obsession, with a sprinkling of wryness across 30 essays ("You announce it has been a trying day [on the river]. Then someone else says it is just nice to get out. Irrationally, you wonder how you can get even for that remark.")

Blood Knots: Of Fathers, Friendship and Fishing - Luke Jennings

This fantastic memoir by the Guardian's Ballet Correspondent opens with Jennings in the dead of a bitter winter night, pushing his way past razor wire and wild lilac, to reach the canal behind London's King's Cross. Chill in this faintly terrifying urban setting, he throws a sprat out into the darkness of the canal in the hope of connecting with a big pike. "It's those first heart-in-mouth seconds you keep going back for," he writes. "For the moment when anything is possible."

Gavin Lockhart-Mirams