The Medlar News Blog

Medlar has been publishing fishing books since 1994 and we are proud to have produced works by many of the finest angling writers. In our Blog we’ll give you an insight into the new books we’re working on, provide the occasional extract from our Books of the Week, author news, book reviews and loads of angling snippets (from how to fish to fishing history, fishing tackle, great angling literature and much more).

All-Rounders - No. 2

H.T. Sheringham
Stacks Image 760

Angling All-Rounders No. 2 - H.T.Sheringham

with apologies to C.V. Hancock

Hugh Tempest Sheringham was born in 1876 beside Shakespeare’s Avon at Evesham, the eldest of four children (the others being George, Harry and Violet) of Edith and the Reverend Harry Sheringham. He started his education at a local school then studied at Westminster after the family moved to London and finally earned a BA from Trinity College, Cambridge before starting a career in journalism. He married Jesse Catherine Anderson in 1913, and the couple had two sons and a daughter.

In his day, Hugh Sheringham was probably the best-loved of all anglers after Isaac Walton. Those who knew and fished with him bore witness to his lively spirit and his skill as a fisherman. The joy of angling glistens in his books. Sheringham won the affection of a wide readership of anglers - he became angling editor of
The Field in 1903, a job he continued for twenty-seven years, until his tragically early death in December 1930, at the age of fifty-four. His fishing books are all delightful and he warmly encouraged other angling authors, among them Skues.

As a contributor to the
Morning Post he used the pen-name Piscator Rotundus, meaning ‘All-round Angler’ (not a globular one!). He was indeed a prince among all-rounders, the kind of angler that is almost extinct in these times of intense specialisation, whether by dry-fly purists, carp catchers or match fishermen. Once, in an address to a fishing club, Sheringham extolled the virtues of the angler who, at heart, is in sympathy with every branch of the sport, even though he may no longer practise all of them himself. Even if an angler did not turn into a specialist in his middle age, Sheringham would have him remember his ‘Arcadian youth’ and acknowledge that ‘the root of the angling spirit is charity’. If only that spirit was still flourishing in modern angling . . .

Sheringham practised what he preached - both in all-roundness and charity. A close friend paid tribute after his death to his ‘gorgeously comprehensive sympathy’. This extended to all species of fish as well as all kinds of fishermen. To him there was no ‘poor fish’, none ‘common and unclean’.
All fish had a place in his affections, and he possessed a surpassing adroitness in angling for them all.

On a visit to the hallowed waters of the Houghton Club on the Test, Sheringham surprised the members by his outstanding success on a particularly difficult evening. It became legendary in the club as ‘Sheringham’s Evening’. But he allowed no essential superiority to chalk-stream trout fishing. He delighted in fishing little unconsidered trout waters, such as the Welsh stream which he and his friends christened the Penydwddwr, where a ‘breakfast fish’ was a trout to be proud of. He was also an unashamed wormer of thickly-bushed Midland brooks.
Stacks Image 779
An Open Creel, one of Sheringham's finest books.
Among the specimen fish which he honoured with glass cases were pike, carp, chub and roach. He wrote a classic account of catching a big reservoir carp, a story which has found its way into more than one angling anthology. In 1911 he visited a friend’s water on the Wiltshire Avon above Salisbury to fish for trout, but with disappointing prospects in that hottest and driest of summers, he happily turned to catching big roach on bread pellets in a shrunken hatch-hole. One memorable day on the Kennet he caught five dace, all over the pound - on a fly. On more than one occasion he annoyed a host by ignoring the trout, often because he had spied a great chub. He had a passion for chub, and it sometimes seemed he would jump at the opportunity to swap the trout fly on his cast with a small frog, captured in a ditch, so he could go creeping, crouching and dibbing. Incidentally, the only reference to a salmon-fly rod in Sheringham’s books is to an 18-footer which he found serviceable in pike fishing for casting a monstrous fly - or fishing a frog!

In a preface he once wrote for a volume of fishing essays by William Senior, Sheringham congratulated him on a wide range of interests that extended from salmon to gudgeon. Interests just like his own. It is typical of Sheringham that the best of his books - while all (especially An Open Creel) are delightful - is Coarse Fishing. Tackle and tactics have changed much since it was written, but not the book’s charm. ‘Frankly’, he began ‘I do not see why I should apologise . . . Salmon-fishing is good; trout-fishing is good; but to the complete angler neither is intrinsically better than the pursuit of roach, or tench, or perch, or pike’.

He planned, but died before he could complete
The Book of the Fly-Rod. It contains nothing about great and costly salmon rivers, because Sheringham was out of sympathy with the plutocrat who, in his own words, ‘Bestrides our streams like a Colossus’. To him the fly-rod was something for all men equally to enjoy. And so it was chiefly the humble angler whom he loved and by whom he was loved in return. They wrote to him in thousands and received and treasured personal replies in his familiar green ink . . .
Stacks Image 775