Boo’s Book – Terminal Chancer

Fishing books? At last count I got to about 180, so I suppose the 200 mark isn’t far round the corner. Due to my dirty past as coarse/specimen fisherman about a third of them are by Chris Yates, John Bailey, Rod Hutchinson and their pals.

Even before I started into the world of fly fishing , I started reading probably the number 1 mover in fly fishing literature, John Gierach, who with his “off the wall” titles and a mixture of gonzo humour and refusal to conform to the accepted “salmon & trout are everything” world of the 80s and 90s in United States, was a forerunner for today’s world of fly fishing where if it swims, someone is chasing it with a fly rod. Even though I’ve never cast a line in America, Gierach’s tales of fishing for carp, pike, bass and yes even trout are one of the biggest influences on my fishing today. As much as the fishing Gierach tells us about Coffee, road trips, mountain hiking, diners, fishing buddies, camping, drinking, fly tying, bamboo rods (I’m not even going down that road) that sums up the life of a trout bum.


 2 of the many shelves

He steadfastly refuses to go the route of instruction and just tells his tales of fishing and the life orbiting it. Over the years I’ve collected all his books and 2014 is a Gierach year where a new title hits the shelves in Spring and Diane contacts Paul at Coch Y Bonduu Books and orders me a signed copy, a ritual in itself that has run for as least 14 years.

So what about James (Boo) Gilbraith’s book – Terminal Chancer, Silver Seasons Alantic Salmon?

Let’s get it straight from the off this isn’t fly fishing – Boo is a salmon angler. Boo fishes the fly if conditions are right and he fishes it bloody well. However if he feels that his best chance of a salmon is spinning he will spin or go total darkside and fish the prawn and that’s about as much instruction on salmon fishing you will get out of this book…


I bump into Boo and his pal Howey 5 or 6 times a season on the Ribble, and always enjoy a chat with them in the car park or down at my favorite pool (where he usually tongue in cheek asks for my permission to run through) and he’s always struck me as a bloke with a great sense of humor, who always has a tale to tell. So when I heard he was self publishing a book on salmon fishing, I was always betting on a Gierach feel to the book as opposed to Falkus. I was spot on, this can only be described as a wild ride.

If Hunter S Thompson, came from the Ribble Valley, fell into the world of salmon fishing and became drinking buddies with John Gireach, this is what his first salmon book would read like. This is an account of a season’s salmon fishing on the Ribble with detours into the past and up to Scotland for some famous fishing via the balancing of our need to be at the riverside with real life distractions of wives, work, kids, drinking, friendships, HR departments etc.

It’s often said that any writer of note is a keen observer of life and Boo certainly displays his observations of his and other salmon fisher’s lives and issues. I honestly believed that I was alone in secretly desiring that Orvis Zambezi vest, but clearly at least someone else has a dodgy “fashion” sense too! and as for being sat in the car, going through the anguish of picking Beat A or Beat B and being totally unable to move in fear of making the incorrect choice !!…I feel as though Boo has been quietly sat in the back of my car for half of the last season! A book that delivers a chuckle a page and a couple of out loud belly laughs every chapter, is in my view great stuff, I loved it and forgive my clichés, but I read in it in one afternoon and was honestly disappointed when I finished it and had to leave Boo’s madcap world of Ribble Salmon and return to real life. The biggest tribute to Boo I can make is that he’s currently tucked between James Babb’s “River Fool” and Negley Farson’s “Going Fishing”, on the same shelf as BB, Seth Norman, Harry Middleton, Thomas McGuane and a little known author by the name of E Hemmingway.

In the spirit of the book I’m writing this at my desk, while I really should be upstairs in a meeting listening to the boss talk through the financing of a take-over – I hope Boo will be proud of me.

4 thoughts on “Boo’s Book – Terminal Chancer

  1. There´s a hell of a lot of good books out there. McGuane and Gierach are among my own favourites too. I guess it´s nice to read someone who writes about your own familiar rivers. Take care, P.

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