The 'Trent Otter' - J. W. Martin, the Man and His Fishing

In this book, to be released in autumn 2020, Peter Rolfe examines the life and work of one of the great Victorian/Edwardian angler-authors. There is a carefully researched biography and bibliography together with a generous selection of extracts from his writing in books and the Fishing Gazette, providing a more complete picture of this famous man than has previously been available.

I wrote about 'The Trent Otter' just because he was such an interesting character. He clawed himself up the social ladder, starting from an impoverished childhood and very limited education, reinventing himself as a rod-maker, angling guide, popular speaker and prolific writer. He became famous.

He set out to instruct young and inexperienced working class anglers and in the process described his fishing experiences just like a Victorian David Attenborough. He takes us fishing with him in the Fens, on the Trent and the Witham and later the Great Ouse and the Thames, introducing us to his friends and sharing his fascination with wildlife and the environment.

Sadly, I couldn't find a single mention of crucians in anything that Martin wrote. He does talk about small carp, though, in a Fenland lake called 'Jackson's Pit' and sometimes people mistook the two species then, just as they do now, so perhaps he did catch some. His favourite fish, though, swam in rivers: barbel, chub, roach and pike, but he mentions others along the way.

He wrote lots of books, all collectable and expensive now, but reprints are available and I try to give a guide to all this in my book. Anyone interested in the history of angling and old tackle will find him well worth reading.

I've become so interested in him and his life that I've started to write "The Trent Otter" – the Novel. That should keep me busy for a year or two! The biography in the Medlar book, though, is strictly factual!

The 'Trent Otter'
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