Subtitled, The fish that conquered an empire, brown trout – mostly with a British accent – spread the length and breadth of the British Empire and beyond. Fascinating and highly readable, Newton’s research took him to contemporary accounts and details, from official archives to newspapers, magazines and books. This book has the documentary and factual depth of a true historical study, however, it has something more, another dimension. Chris Newton is, according to the details on the cover, a former journalist and broadcaster. It seems to me that Newton takes dry facts and turns them into stories. This book read like a series of short stories, about the places and characters who for one reason or another take trout (and salmon) from the UK and stock them around the globe – North and South America, Australia and New Zealand, India, Africa and more.
Newton writes of bureaucrats and colonial governors living far from home, anglers who hoped to bring sport fish from home. Of chance encounters where anglers became acquainted, later fished together and were so stunned by, say, Black Forest brown trout; so impressed that large parts of the United States were stocked with brown trout. One or two of Newton’s tales have a wonderful ‘Boy’s Own’ flavour: “Edwart Grogan was the kind of Englishman they don’t make any more”, an adventurer, explorer, and not a fisher, who almost by chance came to stock parts of Kenya with Scottish trout.
From a basis in well researched fact, Newton weaves a series of tales going some way to illustrate how brown trout were spread around the globe. I thoroughly enjoyed The Trout’s Tale.
The Trout’s Tale by Chris Newton
Published by Medlar Press
Price: £20 hardback