Book Review: Secret Creek – Friendships, pheromones and fly-fishing

THERE have been more books and articles published on fly-fishing than any other form of angling. This book, titled Secret Creek: Friendships, pheromones and fly-fishing, is the latest in a long line of literary endeavours that extends back to 1653 when Izaak Walton first published The Compleat Angler.

Most fishing books can basically be described as “instruction manuals”. They inform and educate the reader on the intricacies involved with fishing, often dealing with technical subjects such as casting, knot tying, presentation or streamcraft. This book, written by Paul Miller, a real estate agent and fanatical fly fisherman from the Southern Highlands of NSW, is different. Rather than being a dry and technical treatise on the mechanics of fishing, Secret Creek is made up of a collection of entertaining and thought-provoking vignettes covering a range of topics relating to fishing, mostly about trout but with a couple of side excursions to bass (one section titled “the Old Bronze Batter” features my rascally old fishing mate Will Watt, who takes Paul on a midnight sojourn chasing bass on surface flies in a famous NSW South Coast stream).

In my experience, fly fishermen tend to be a tad more contemplative than the average fisho. Miller is obviously no exception. His love of fly-fishing, the meaning that it gives his life and the joy he gets from helping other anglers improve their own fishing, is a constant theme throughout the book.

Equally impressive is Miller’s relaxed yet evocative writing style. I read a lot of books about fishing – and any number of other subjects for that matter – and discovered Miller’s literary approach throughout Secret Creek to be refreshingly direct, perceptive and intelligent. He’s a fine writer.

Subjects covered in the book are diverse and varied. This is a meandering sort of read, much like a trout stream in fact, with fast paced sections of only a couple of pages covering excursions to various locations to deeper, more contemplative discussions about the meaning of fishing and how it can shape your life.

All up, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the writing and the depth and breadth of the ideas Miller explores in his debut book. After spending the past couple of weeks immersed in its pages, it’s my opinion that Secret Creek is a fine example of contemporary angling literature. The editing and production of the hardback edition I was sent as a review copy is likewise top notch, as are Glen Preece’s drawings and illustrations. Secret Creek is edited by Peter Gibson and published by Sydney-based Creek of Peace. Hardback editions can be purchased direct via A special slip-cased leather bound limited edition is also available for serious collectors.

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