Book Review – Song of the Streams by Michelle Werrett – By John Cheyne

Michelle Werrett, by her own admission is not an expert fly caster. If she could roll cast the way she constructs sentences however, she would be an England International. Her new book “Song of the Streams” takes the reader on a fly fishing journey through Exmoor, visiting its family of energetic, sparkling rivers and engaging with its fish population to establish how these waters have changed since Claude Wade wrote his classic “Exmoor Streams – Notes and Jottings with Practical Hints for Anglers” in 1903.

Clapper Bridge on the River Barle, Exmoor

Michelle’s professional background is as a farm conservation advisor and her obvious knowledge of and passion for our countryside only ever enhances the book. Sometimes fishing books that seek to discuss environmentalism can end up both rather depressing and a little opinionated, but the authors voice throughout the book, avoids that beautifully and instead becomes a gentle, cajoling voice of reason, understanding and care. There is also a danger when writing a book that involves the author visiting and describing the fishing on a large number of rivers and streams in a fairly tight geographical location that it could all become a little monotonous, with one stream merging into the next. After all, the capture of one seven inch Wildie is pretty much like the next, unless you are catching them yourself. Thankfully, Michelle’s ability to transport the reader to each new location and find the essence of every rivers character means that each chapter unfolds in a new way and you are always keen for more. Michelle writes beautifully, her written word flowing as gently and lyrically as the streams she loves to fish, with a fast riffle of description here, a little swirly eddy of knowledge there and a wonderful steady flow of angling joy throughout. If you already fish the streams of Exmoor then you will definitely want to read this book. If you are thinking of exploring the area with a fishing rod, then you MUST read this book and if like me you consider no cold night by the fire to be complete without a beautifully written fishing book open in your hand, then I recommend you add Werrett’s Song of the Streams to your library. You will not only be taken on a wonderful journey, but you will close the book with a greater understanding of the environmental pressures on our waters without ever feeling that you have been preached to. A gem.