F. Mitchell Hedges - Battles with Giant Fish
Duckworth & Co., London, 1923
This was a popular book in its day and was reprinted at least three times, which is unusual for any book on fishing - the title must have helped. In a nutshell, you get just over 300 pages of total bloodbath, and I do not exaggerate, because there isn’t much rod and line fishing in here and Mitchell Hedges used whatever method worked regardless of how unsubtle it might have been. At one time he considered using explosives, but in the end he settled for capturing most of his fish using half inch hawsers and massive hooks attached to ten foot chains loaded with up to 70 pounds of deadbait. Subtle, it ain’t and the pages are full of thousand pound sharks being polished off with rifles and revolvers and when Mitchell Hedges got bored of that, he went and shot crocodiles just for the fun of it. He even caught a porpoise.
Mitchell Hedges wasn’t a great writer and the endless slaughter does get a bit wearying - even he must have realised the sheer pointlessness of it all, and quite how Lady Richmond Gordon, his companion, put up with it, I have no idea. The vast majority of the catches were cut up and dumped back in the sea and if it wasn’t for the regular changes of location the whole book would degenerate into something resembling the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. But, given that there are readers who enjoy the TCM, this book does have an audience and I’ll concede, it is one of a kind, unless you count Scull's Lassoing Wild Animals in Africa, which is equally improbable, but has no fishing in it at all. Quite why Mitchell Hedges kept at it for so long, I have no idea, but I guarantee that you won’t read anything like it. Not recommended for catch and release anglers or readers of a nervous disposition.