Angling Legends Series – Izaak Walton

When discussing who, what and where to put forward as an angling legend here at the Gazette, there are two rules we usually adopt.

Firstly that the person, place or thing in question, has made a significant contribution to the world of angling. Secondly that a cross section of our friends and fellow anglers, know who or what we are talking about.

When I first put Walton’s name forward, I assumed it would be met with understanding nods. To my surprise however, it turned out that more than a few of our fellow fisher folk, had never heard of him.

After some frantic ‘googling’ and the dusting off of an old copy of the Compleat Angler, I’m happy to report that with a little, gentle arm twisting, Izaak’s legendary status was accepted.

Izaak Walton was not one of Britain’s greatest anglers. Nor was he actually even one of our greatest writers. Many of his beliefs and theories would seem ridiculous today. His thoughts that pike were born from ‘pickerel weed’ and other substances, reacting with sunlight, would possibly see him certified. But what Walton had was a passion for fish and fishing, coupled with a desire to write about it.
His book, The Compleat Angler was first published in 1653, however Walton continued to add to if for some 25 years after.

To gather information for his book, the author spent the best part of 40 years visiting eminent clergymen and others who enjoyed fishing, compiling the biographies and collecting a little here and a little there to add to his knowledge.

This labour of love and his quest to compile a book evoking the “Spirit of angling and anglers” is perhaps enough in itself to grant Izaak the status of legend. But it is what has happened since that we believe gives Izaak the right to be be honoured.
We take it for granted that we can pick up fishing magazines and books every day of the week if we want to. Every branch of our sport is covered, by a huge number of authors and writers, on a vast range of subjects. Back in Walton’s day this was not the case.

Izaak Walton and others of his day have inspired a generation angling writers. Without their bravery and spirit to publish material which may actually have later turned out to be incorrect, is something to be admired.

To be prepared to write on a hugely subjective topic, exposing himself often to ridicule or strong debate, Walton proved that it is not always those who catch the biggest fish or are experts in such matters, that truly capture that spirit of angling.

We are delighted to give Izaak Walton his deserved status of angling legend and we have listed some of our favourite quotes from The Complete Angler below. 1653 was a year that changed angling writing forever.


”As no man is born an artist, so no man is born an angler”

”Angling may be said to be so like the mathematics, that it can never be fully learnt”

”Doubt not but angling will prove to be so pleasant, that it will prove to be, like a virtue, a reward to itself”

“I shall stay him no longer than to wish him a rainy evening to read this following discourse; and that if he be an honest angler, the east wind may never blow when he goes a-fishing”

“God never did make a more calm, quiet, innocent recreation than angling”

”This dish of meat is too good for any but anglers, or very honest men”

”Rivers and the inhabitants of the watery elements are made for wise men to contemplate and for fools to pass by without consideration”

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Damien Swift

Editor at Angling Gazette
I'm a life long angler and now editor on the Angling Gazette Magazine.
About Damien Swift 9 Articles
I'm a life long angler and now editor on the Angling Gazette Magazine.

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