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Work, ethics & poetry

It was so big you could hear it swimming !


All fish from the Ribble

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The river is a constant play ground – our whats’app group is full of digital bullets like these above – its hard to get anything done !

Thanks to all the boys

Rocky, Malc, Tommo, Mick, Marc, Karl, Clint, Phil, Peter, Colin, Ryan, Simon, John, Paul  – Ahab and Lamont

2016 Spring – Let It Roll

I decided some weeks ago that it was about time I shook off my mid season funk and get out there and get some…..I needed an injection of rhythm to chase away the blues. April had nipped in and mugged me while I was day dreaming about time being on my side,…. no rush, ease my way in, stay calm, digest the info then respond appropriately….reports of April Ribble springers had smash and grabbed me and made me engage in the odd hour of hit and run. No rush, ease my way in – May would soon be here and it was bound to be wet……………………guess again.

The river came up dirty and dropped dirty through June & July, only the retired, enjoying their enlarged time portal could get the timing right and prosper but even these sages found the going tougher than tackling a club car park combination lock with failing eyesight. Meanwhile my world continued to slowly rotate and my river time was reduced by life’s other constant distractions; I was caught under the effluence. But no matter where or what I was doing my season was still there lurking in the shadows like a nagging spectre in the mist. It wouldn’t be ignored and demanded to be both addressed and satisfied. Normally at 5am I’m out of bed like a gymnast – vaulting into my shoes, silently slithering under the door crumpled like I’ve tumbled out of the washer – up out and onto the river for a quick two hours. This however was not the case – duvet grabbed and spun in a death roll and back to sleep. Something was wrong, something was missing – I had full blown apathy – as I walk alone I wonder, what went wrong with our love, a love that was so strong – Del Shannon, Runaway. Where was my mojo, my spark my drive.

My spark & my drive is my eternal friend Lamont & he was two weeks into a month long retreat in a Himalayan mountain ashram, franticly trying to come to terms with 2015’s blank season and patch up his shot gunned psyche. He had already been there for fourteen days trying to explain the various nuances of salmon fishing to a Buddhist monk named Peng……apparently Pengs entirely redundant lack of knowledge of the Ribble system, its tributary’s and the life cycle of the Atlantic salmon didn’t help Lamonts exasperated bubbling anger issues. Peng also struggled with Lamonts Blackburn accent, his regional dialect and phases. Lamont had phoned me via a weekly satellite hook up that gave him his only contact to the outside world. He didn’t sound calm. Serenity was away for a bit. It must have been on a lunch break – fuckin Peng, he’s serene because he happily knows nothing! – he’s never heard of Whalley or even Preston….it took me three hours to explain marmite – he’s driving me daft…he asked me why I kept saying I was a gate!…. at this point the call ended. The satellite had obviously gone over the wrong stile and wandered into an unwelcoming Chinese airspace. Chinese airspace is Lamonts description of losing your way on new club water and inadvertently crossing onto another clubs beat – I think I may be in Chinese airspace – there’s a bloke looking at me……

I’m left conjuring an image of a poor bewildered Peng – shaved head – devout – flowing robes – contemplating Lamont and what place in the cosmos for two obviously very different species….

Wittgenstein : if a lion could speak, we could not understand him – even if-itwer a Lancashire lion.

Serious time

So needing a jump start to my season I vowed to fish everyday that the river was in a fishable condition. It was mid August when I stuffed my gear in the ford focus pocus (recently valued at £50 by we buy any car .com) and decided to go toe to toe with the season. Two hour sessions with the fly, lure or prawn pre & post work drew blank but did start to ignite the pilot light. Seeing a few uncatchable fish in unreachable and impenetrable areas of the Ribble wilderness was just the ticket. Id missed the Russian roulette white knuckle ride thrill of driving down – journey to the centre of the earth farm tracks. Frequent Rambo-esque twilght jungle extractions from Chinese airspace has been enough to make me get my head right and revel in a life now thankfully far less ordinary.

Got my Mojo working but it just aint working on you

It’s quickly gathered pace and I’m now all-in with this season; balance is restored. On the way onto a beat I’m full of sunshine, almost trotting, no aches or pains – only dreams and optimism. Only to come off with my feet on backwards, my ankles upside down and my sanity ebbing. The last three days has seen me fish hard on what I consider to be the best water of the year so far. I’ve visited 5 different beats, gone from top to bottom & covered fish – loved every minute but still blanking. The rhythm of the chase is returning as is Lamont (who no doubt will be the first man to be banned from Tibet)– I’m rocksteady ready now and ready to nice up the dance.

Ever forward Ribble salmon – I prefer the Porsche and not the Yugo, so let it roll, let it roll.



Chapter 5 from Terminal Chancer – Clint Best vs The Cosmos


One of my most pleasurable experiences had come while staring down the neck end of competitive sports fishing. It played out like this:

Aged 22 I had entered my local club’s fly fishing competition – The NALGO shield. National Association of Local Government Officers – in case you were wondering. Placed three miles from my home as the crow flew there was a small three acre lake named Jeffery Pond in the middle of Woodfold Country Estate. The lake was fun to fish, well stocked with rainbows, fictional massive browns and although not far from the reaches of the town, it was absolutely rural.

Sixteen rods entered and two heats of eight went at it over four hours. Best weight won, top two went through to a semi final draw to fish the same rules head to head after drawing pegs. The winners of the semis faced each other on a Saturday morning July final.

In those days I liked to think of myself as the fly fishing outsider, a northern Huck Finn. I had a black brand-less carbon ten foot blank that I had whipped Fuji eyes on, it owned the subtle grace and action of a concrete lintel – one intrepid Rimfly reel and a wet cell two line with a knot in the end to attach 5lb Maxima line. One of my favourite things was my hand turned weighted wooden priest that could have dropped a charging bull with one shot. This lot was kept in my Mum’s woven shoulder beach bag along with about twenty lures and nymphs, a motley crew of black dog nobblers, white dog nobblers, orange fritzs, Montanas and weighted caddis kept snug in my Loch Leven fly tin. I had a four foot aluminium landing net pole and bright blue micro mesh round twenty two inch coarse landing net head, which I used for landing everything. I was so proud to own fuck all, not to have any choices to make other than to fish hard until it clicked.

I breezed through my round by fishing out an evening rise using a slow retrieve as soon as my line hit the water, letting my black dog nobbler sink and hypnotise the gormless rainbows. The grey tide that represented the rest of the competitors fumbled with dainty dry flys in an effort to match the hatch.
Tale of the tape

Blackburns: outlaw gunslinger, beach bag/George Best/Huck Finn – 8 rainbows for 15lb

Entire cast of the Last of the Summer Wine – 1 rainbow for 2lb

The result of the other round, one week later really made my senses detonate – there was only one other young buck in this club – Mick Crook – six feet tall, jet black hair, brown eyes, lethal kidney punch, legendary head butt, athletic centre half, film star looks – all the girls loved him. Six days older than me, gifted natural caster and brutally competitive, he had also spent the last twelve years fishing for everything that swam within a ten mile radius of Blackburn with one of his best friends; me.

We drew each other to fish in the semis to take place one week later on a Friday evening. Everyone in our local pubs at the time – The Woodlands and The Clog and Billycock – knew what it meant. Mick was the current champ and was as ruthless as a viral infection – after a hapless stocking, all the trout had died within a few hours and needed fishing out, Mick turned up with face mask, snorkel, flippers and in an afternoon filled his mums chest freezer.

I was on his freckle though and he knew it. He said that my line, which I bought for five pounds after fishing it out of a bargain bin at a game fair, was lucky as it possessed an unclassified sink rate. The build-up banter was merciless and friends quickly began to speculate who would win. My preparation was to watch ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ every night until the semi. I felt this film would teach me a great deal – mainly give everyone an unfair advantage then come out confident and shooting.

On the night we travelled down together – tossing a coin for who had to open the two gates and run the gauntlet of the mad farmer’s mad dog, Ming. I had the honour of pegging it, shouting fuck off Ming for a heart thumping one hundred and twenty metres. Mick watched, amused, from the safety of his blue Escort mark two.

Mick went big when he drew a jetty peg, ruled by the mythical splashes of one of the supposed resident browns. Nobody could ignore those splashes for long. Crooky knew… land Nessy and he would have been water tight. His casting was so elegant that his own narcissism was his undoing. He would watch his line cast down to the backing and land so straight and perfectly that he would shout across, “did you see that, brings a tear to the eye.” This vanity made him fish the dry fly more than he should. By contrast I looked like a navvy digging a hole with a mallet, you could hear me ripping curtains as the line was dragged double handed off the water and launched back until I got the desired distance. It was agricultural to say the least – Ming probably would have been more graceful.

After four hours we weighed in. Mick knew he had been blown apart by a peasant ditch digger with a combination of Black Nobblers and caddis cunningly dragged across the bottom. Postcards of this flogging could have been made and stamps should have been issued. The super natural ghost brown hadn’t massacred his surface Muddler or fallen for a buzzer attack, he had more chance of contacting the dead.

Clint Eastwood: Four rainbows for 7lb

Eli Wallach: Nil

We went to The Woodlands to share the news and a few beers about our contest. We discussed our upcoming Sunday League football match for the Clog and Billycock (I was centre forward – I once won an award in the shape of a Clog nailed to a plank – brass inscription read – Miss of the season, for a breathless two foot toe poke that went wide of an open net), and where we should go fly fishing on the Sunday after playing in the footy match. That’s how free we were. Can you remember how that felt – take five minutes and ponder – make a brew and take yourself back to being twenty two – wasn’t it a peach?


The final would prove to be a very different psychedelic kettle of fish…. Libérer le mental.

My four mile walk to the lake on that Saturday July morning remains a fragmented memory – I had spent from 2.30am restless in my bedroom in my parents’ house accompanied only by a head full of acid, Shaun Ryder and sixty zillion flashing thoughts, unbridled chains of images, rhythms, beats, words, colours and sounds. Horizontal on my bed reminding myself to breathe as though I had escaped after being submerged under water …huurrgghh, in, out, in, out – that’s the ticket, breathing – why didn’t I think of that earlier.

Friday evenings usually started like this –ten of us in the Woodlands pub at 7pm, Blakey’s bar in Blackburn town 8pm, call in the Swan to score some acid, drop half a trip and smoke some herb. Proceed to laugh our bollocks off all the way round town feeling disengaged from your own self but also so aware of every conversation, linear – and able to join the strands no matter how tenuous and more importantly understand the game, to revel in it. To feel linked by those close friends who inhabited the same universe in a packed town centre. Two am, twenty bensons, ten pints later and feeling like the starring role in your own movie, it was home time – I had a big day tomorrow, I could win a prize… Despatched in a taxi looking out the window marvelling at the rolling images, the night sky and noticing the contrast of EVERYTHING, mesmerised by the contours of a curb as you flowed along at thirty mph.

Home – tip toes to my room trying not to laugh – my Mum’s an anaesthetic nurse – so one proceeded with extreme caution. Bedroom = safety and sanctuary. Now the smart money is on the casual acid taker being just sensible enough to have a stock of Temazepam or Valium to turn off this terrible drug. Not me, all I had was a massive six foot by three foot poster of Shaun William Ryder’s face on the cover of Bummed, the Mondays finest LP, looking back at me while I led on my bed in my poster lined shrine to music trying to stay positive, think happy thoughts, obviously so very awake. All I could hear was Shaun singing Wrote For Luck (they sent me you) round and round for three and a half hours. Magic moments of self induced dementia.


In those days I was bullet proof, not like now – one string left to snap, five pints can leave me shaking like a shitting dog the morning after. By 6am the acid was clearing and I was entering the quiet calm stage – I still felt disconnected from my normal self but I could function to a point. I jumped out of bed, threw on my red Kicker pumps and consumed, what I considered the antidote to a complete night of carnage – a banana and drank a pint of water, collected my beach bag, net and rod and set off up the yellow brick road.

My eyesight was being streamed directly through a fish eye lens, the colours where switched on, nature had plugged itself in just for me and seemingly placed fairy lights in every leaf. I walked along the quiet main road, as though I was pacing through the pages of a distorted fairy tale pop-up book and turned into the opulent and majestic tree lined Meins Road. The sun was just warming up and it was clear that it was going to be a scorcher. No wind, no cloud, just sunshine. I felt completely confident and at ease. The entire world was beautiful and I was just a mere insignificant spec. I knew my place… Glad to be alive, pleased to be aware of other perceptions and boggling at the mind’s power and those fine academics who invented LSD.

Dog walkers, joggers, milk men, paper boys, and cars all gave me a wave, nod and a wink as I ambled with my rod on my shoulder returning their greetings – wow Blackburn was a friendly place. Then I remembered Ming. My own personal Cerberus lived at the end of Meins Road and probably hated Woodstock and peace. I was out of his reach today – nothing could penetrate my glow, nature had no need to be nervous of me. Once at the end of the road, I reached a cattle grid that signified the start of Ming’s dynasty. The road became a ruptured farm track that led to the farm and the first of Ming’s gates and one hundred and twenty yards of no-man’s-land. This track was our only access. Ming lived for us fisherman to pass through – he was an utterly ferox Viet Cong border collie with a cunning urban outlook, I doubt he had ever been indoors – matted rasta coat, not an ounce of fat and always bad tempered – we represented his Babylon. The farm yard was a quiet dry dust bowl as I arrived at the gate – mother earth’s vibrations told me I was safe. Open the gate and pick up speed and trot-on – head swivelling waiting to hear him scrambling for another young dead man. No sign and only twenty metres from the freedom of the second gate – karma shattered as the spicy bastard rounds the corner of the milking shed. Holy shit he looks amplified – I explode into a full blown sprint and clear the fence with a quantum leap, just two metres to spare of Ming’s flaring jaws. After a few disappointed huffs and puffs, he turns and resumes his position in an open drain next to the milking barn, troll-like – waiting for his next course of entertainment. I give him a quick cocky flick of the V’s and call him a twat.

Descending down the track I’m flanked by neon turbo green fields, which spread out down the Ribble Valley towards Houghton and Preston. Directly on my right shoulder is a dark lurching twisted broadleaf wood that evoked the fear as I walked by it. I hear a car behind me and see that it’s my opponent and two of his fellow NALGO committee members all attired with burgundy faces and broad grins as they see me. With my heightened senses I could hear what they were wearing before they disembarked from their motor, the muffled rustle of a wool cotton blend jumper, a flurry of corduroy and the clank of several pairs of Hush Puppies. As they get out of the car, one of the committee men was examining his jumbo cords trouser leg six inches above his ankle – he is cursing Ming and muttering that its a bloody menace. His interests soon return to me though as they ask me what I’ve come as…

For the first time that morning I take a close look at myself – red kicker pumps, black cotton knee length cut off chinos and a black cotton Paul Smith shirt that had the largest and brightest floral repeat pattern of red, blue and yellow roses all over it. This was my Friday night going out shirt which I considered a sure fire bated honey trap, a conversation starter, an in. Thanks to my tattered state of mind I hadn’t even noticed that it was still on my back. I flashed back to all those smirking bastard joggers, paperboys, milkmen, dog walkers and drivers all giving me the nod and the thumbs up… Wow, wasn’t Blackburn full of funny bastards?

Thanks to the glory of the acid I had managed to bypass any kind of fashion filter. I stood before these NALGO committee men like a black haired, ten bob eyed tourist, complete with beach bag and homemade rod. Hugh Falkus I was not, more like an overblown cartoon character than a traditional vision of a fly fisherman.

I remember while waiting for the draw and during awkward conversation, very distinctly the heavy feeling of thirst and of the bright hot sunshine. The acid wave had got me this far but it was about to break and leave me high and dry. The first feelings of mild discomfort were circling around my head like giant condors. I needed to be in my own space, by myself, just the two of us, one doing the fishing and the other providing a running commentary of all proceedings, future, past and present.

The draw for pegs was finally made – my competitor drew the best peg on the lake, while I drew an overgrown peg at the opposite end. Lilies twenty five feet in front of me that narrowed thirty feet to my left until they met the bank, creating a forty five degree wedge shaped channel. Any way you wanted to slice it – it was a dog day to fish for trout, hot, bright and still. I had no reason to be confident, however this information hadn’t punctured into my own psyche – my mind had swirled back into optimism mode and was now doing handstands wondering how much a tin of Brasso was for polishing the trophy. I opened my fly box, at eight inches away the colours leapt out. I laughed as I tied on an orange fritz and cast out down the Lily lined margins. The morning was full of internal and external chuckling. Before eleven o’clock I had caught three two pound rainbows. My blanking opponent conceded with thirty minutes still remaining.

We shook hands and concluded our business; I was the NALGO champ and would receive my trophy at the AGM. I declined a lift in favour of walking up a path through the woods towards Pleasington and the Clog and Billycock that avoided Ming’s grasp. By now I was urgently in need of a drink and someone I could talk to who was on my level. A few of my mates would be in the Clog for our regular blissful Saturday afternoon of killer pool, darts, three card brag and banter.

I opened the door and instantly was greeted by friends, lent on the bar reloading and by Jimmy Hendrix singing Voodoo Chile – I stand up next to a mountain… Beautiful soul filling noise, the shirt and rod cocktail had thrown them… “Did you fish or what?”… I pause, lean my rod on the bar and for one of the only times in my life I happily reply … I won. For the next eight hours I retold the encounter to a backdrop of much laughter, beer and amazing music. Youth wasted on the young? Well George, it certainly didn’t feel like it… which I guess is its essence.


Boo Gilbraith – NALGO fly fishing Champ 1990, King Kipper* 1998/99, self appointed life president of The Guild Of Reason – club motto Be Reasonable

George Bernard Shaw – Nobel prize for literature 1925

Since this foray into the world of club contests we decided to create our own closed competitions between ourselves, a group of about eight to twelve fly fishing friends to ensure that one of us wins something while receiving just the right amount of needle.

*The King Kipper shield is a biannual fly fishing match on day ticket waters – heaviest bag wins. Mick Crook has been crowned KK three times. Win it five times and he gets to keep the trophy. It’s a horrible thought.

Playhappy, Boo

Both lost and found as everything before you and calmness descends.

Terminal Chancer


A book about passion and hope at the waters edge.

Terminal Chancer Silver Seasons Atlantic Salmon – Is a book about fishing, passion, humour, optimism, hope, outsiders, antiheros and breaking out of the eternal grind. One reader has said Its a classic and a must read. Another hailed it as a wild ride.

The book  started as scattered ideas and entries in my diary. While connecting these strands I quickly realized that I was writing something very different – a potential square peg. Life’s interesting spaces tend to be inhabited by square pegs, people who don’t  or won’t fit the plan.

Feedback & reviews have been fantastic – Caught By The River, Eat Sleep Fish, Fallons Angler, Trout Fisherman and Saatchi Arts & Music Magazine have all given Terminal Chancer high praise and superb reviews. Obviously these comments are very gratifying but its the reviews from the readers – anglers and non-anglers alike that have been the greatest surprise. The warmth in which the book has been received has been overwhelming – From an initial print run of 500 – only 96 signed 1st editions remain. For more info, reviews and an option to buy – please read on.

Back cover reads : Blinded by optimism and dammed by time – The Terminal Chancer reluctantly straddles both the worlds of responsibility and self indulgence. He strives to exit the membrane of the everyday grind so he can inhabit his own exclusive  world – one occupied by Atlantic salmon. Is that too much to ask for?

Eat Sleep Fish said – If you buy one book this year make sure its this one. And Its a small landmark in angling literature

Jeffrey Prest Features editor for Trout Fisherman said One of the best books I’ve read this year

Short Description: The seasonal journey of an addicted salmon fisherman hell bent on time travel and achieving the perfect work-life balance.

Anybody who has ever cast a line will absolutely love this book. Likewise anybody who ever wistfully looked out of a work place window daydreaming of some happy place they would rather be.

One reader described it as follows :

If Hunter S Thompson, came from the Ribble Valley, fell into the world of salmon fishing and became drinking buddies with John Gireach, this is what his first salmon book would read like. This is an account of a season’s salmon fishing on the Ribble with detours into the past and up to Scotland for some famous fishing via the balancing of our need to be at the riverside with real life distractions of work, kids, drinking, friendships, HR departments etc

funny every page I don’t usually bother with a review but this book was hilarious. Its about passion and obsession and juggling your life to pursue that passion – and it’s about fishing. It doesn’t matter whether or not you go fishing- everyone will be able to relate to these stories. The writing is witty and ironic and just plain funny – and it doesn’t stop, there is a laugh on every page. Fishing aside, if you like life you’ll love this book.

Daniel Davidson has never been fishing – naturally he was the perfect choice to illustrate the book – arriving with no preconceptions of what a fishing illustration should look like. His style, use of images and colour are completely married to the text. Its been a load of fun working with Danny while we conjured with the various themes and images that the text invokes.

Dannys excellent artwork looks fantastic in the Saatchi Northern issue

Dannys excellent artwork looks fantastic in the Saatchi Northern issue

signed copies with 15 colour illustrations from the pen of Danny Davidson

For the paperback version  buy through paypal here     

For postage within the UK – £1.50 added automatically via the buy it now button

For international shipping please read on.

The book is 13cm x 20cm and weighs 195grams – If you would like me to ship internationally then please calculate the postage costs and add them to the £12 cost of the book – and then pay that amount via paypal to –

Kindle version out now on Amazon

Playhappy, James

For more info and reviews please continue reading –

Read More

Reviews of Terminal Chancer

Jon Berry is the Author of A Can of Worms, Beneath The Black Water, and A Train To Catch. He has published many articles on fishing and was asked by Caught by The River to review Terminal Chancer. I have to say that when I heard such an accomplished writer was reviewing my book – I was both excited and nervous in equal measure.

Review by Jon Berry  for Caught by The River  –

Atlantic salmon. Rainbow trout. Shaun Ryder. LSD. Apocalypse Now. A crazy-as-crazy-gets friend called Lamont. Shrimp-head balaclavas. An unlikely mix, but Gilbraith’s Terminal Chancer is an unlikely book.

It is rare for authors to mention, as Gilbraith’s does in the book’s early pages, that they have self-published the item you hold in your hands because two publishers have turned it down. Upon finishing, I can see why they did; I can also see that they missed a trick. Terminal Chancer is an unusual memoir and an idiosyncratic joy.

Gilbraith is a salmon man, devoted to fishing for the rare runs of fish on his local River Ribble. As such, this is a story with very few salmon in it. There is none of the gigantism found in the writings of Hugh Falkus or Fred Buller, and only brief glimpses of the high-end, ghillie and Land Rover fishing that can be had, for a considerable price, in the Scottish Highlands. Instead, we get the musings of a man who takes every opportunity to escape the cracker factory to cast for fish that are rarely there, and frequently fall off when they do turn up.

The characters in Terminal Chancer are the true beat of its tortured heart. There’s Lamont – profane, unpredictable, obsessive and obtuse – and Ahab, the weather-beaten philosopher with the gammy hip. Early on, we meet an angler in his eleventh successive year without a fish, a troubled soul who refuses to surrender. And then there’s Gilbraith himself; a man juggling the disapproval of the Human Resources Department of the cracker factory with a need to be on the river when the salmon are running, a father and husband who knows that time is precious and, as Ahab makes all too clear, always running out.

Angling readers, especially those who pursue fish as rare and capricious as salmon, will recognise these ordinary but extraordinary dilemmas. ‘Work-life balance’ is a phrase all-too-often bandied about by bosses and bean-counters who just want you to work harder, and stop bitching about it. They are not anglers. Gilbraith’s contempt for them will find a supportive audience.

The author writes with irreverence, but the tension he describes is palpable. Beneath the lunacy and lysergic excursions is a man battling to cope with the demands of a twenty-first century which values clocking on rather more highly than checking out. The man who lives by and for his river is increasingly rare, and Terminal Chancer – despite its limited run of five-hundred copies and place far outside the literary and angling mainstream – should serve as a rallying cry to those who know how wrong that is.

You can read more about Jon here

Other readers have said

Alternatively, could be called the hitchhiker’s guide to fishing

Old Doug would be proud of the diverse people and topics that pop in this book. Don’t be fooled by the sub title, it’s not all about fishing, never once will it try telling you how to tie a dog nobbler! (Apparently its a fishing fly?) Fishing seems to be just the author’s obsession, I could, and you will, easily relate this book to parts of your life, loves and work mix. The author will lead you off on some very diverse tangents and references some obscure writers and performers from all genres of entertainment, that may have you reaching for your almanac of who’s who! but I think this just adds to the charm of the whole prose. So “for no good reason” go and Immerse yourself in “Gonzo Fishing”. Whether you are a fisherman or not, you will enjoy, I did and the closest I get to fishing is the card game!


A great read for all game anglers, I defy any reader not to laugh out loud at some of the stories. Well written and some of the tales will strike a chord with most salmon anglers. I read this book in two days, couldn’t put it down. Lets hope the author writes a follow up.


Brilliant!. Nothing to suit me on tv last evening, so I downloaded this book and read it all. A great read – all the stories
a salmon fisher can relate to and funny! As a fishing great granny I thoroughly enjoyed this book and will be
watching out for the next one!! Great and very well written!

Eat Sleep Fish online magazine

Just finished reading Terminal Chancer – Silver Seasons by James Gilbraith. A full review will be out in the next issue but if you are going to read one book it should be this one. You’ll laugh out loud and empathise too when you spend a year in the company of James in search of salmon. We’re huge fans of it at ESF!

I’ve just travelled from Cornwall to heathrow. Crying with laughter most of the way.
This book is genius.
Definitely get yourself a copy for the close season.

Thanks for a great read


The book was waiting for me on return from a (fish less) Scottish trip, nursing a monumental hangover – malt safari – my hangover recovery theory mirrors the descent of Everest by base camp i.e. in stages by attempting to reduce the amount of alcohol by half per day until back to sea level, otherwise known as one bottle of red.

It was in this environment that the book was read and for that I am truly grateful – laughter is the other great hangover cure.

If “salmon fever” is a disease then truly it is the only one that I remain grateful to have succumbed.


Salmon fishing in the yeah-man

A brilliant read and not just for fishermen! Everyone can relate to the author’s struggle of finding time for his passion, I’ve never held a fishing rod in my life but I caught myself thinking in terms of my hobby as I was reading it, interchanging book names and places to suit; I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone who has a hobby or past-time that they love. A book with laugh out loud stories, music suggestions and plenty of swearing. Buy it, you’ll love it.

Eat Sleep Fish Review

Pete Tyjas has sat down and read James Gilbraith’s Terminal Chancer. Could he put it down?

We last heard from James Gilbraith back in Issue 23 of ESF when he sent us an extract from his book, Terminal Chancer, that he was hoping to get published.

A year or so later I am pleased to say that he has done so and a copy arrived just the other day.

It is about James, or Boo as he is known, and his friends and how their lives revolve around salmon fishing, most notably on the Ribble in Lancashire. It starts with a friend who takes to the roof of his house in a deep state of anguish after spending 11 seasons having not caught a salmon and follows a season’s fishing written in a modern and refreshing style.

The book revolves around the 2013 salmon season and involves him trying to wrestle the Salmon Weasel Award ( the cover, in case you were wondering) away from the clutches of his friend Lamont. Without giving away too much the Salmon Weasel award is won by the angler who catches the most salmon in a season when they should really be somewhere else, like work.

I liked the style of writing very much and can’t ever recall laughing out loud when reading a fishing book but I did this many times and I defy you not to do the same.

The Ribble may not be considered to be a big name river but it really doesn’t matter as the characters who fish it and the rich stories that revolve around it are about much more than epic struggles with large salmon, much more.

For me, this is a book that takes salmon fishing from how it is sometimes perceived and made it interesting to a wide range of people. To be honest, you don’t even have to be a salmon angler to enjoy this, if you fish you’ll still enjoy the read. It is about real anglers who fish in the real world. I like that.

For me, it is a small landmark in angling literature that is different but something I can very much relate to and feel it speaks my language.

I hope this book gets the success it so deserves.

& this wonderful review and link

Hello James, I’ve just finished reading Terminal Chancer. In fact I think I should have started this email saying hello Boo. I’ve enjoyed the book so much that I feel I know you.

Last night I finished the book and had that moment of loss when you turn the last page and realise it’s over. Thank goodness for Caught By The River.

I will be checking out some of the tunes you recommend and would like to send one your way. This came out earlier this year and chimed with my mood at the time (three teenage daughters and turning 56, now turned) There is something wonderfully cathartic about singing “there’s shit all over the streets” at the top of your voice, do try it. I may actually ask Jeff at CBTR to post it as one of the songs of the year.

All the best !

& this from a non fisher

just finished Terminal Chancer. It’ a fantastic book full of handy little tips and inspirational guidance on how to make the most of your work/life balance. Everyone needs a reminder now and again to put the things that make them happy first, above everything else. Every extra minute you can wrestle away from the daily grind to do something you love, whatever that may be, are minutes that are worth their weight in gold. This book is worth every one of those stolen minutes you spend in it, full of laughs, great tales and interesting music references. Looking forward to the next one.

& This review from

Fishing books? At last count I got to about 180, so I suppose the 200 mark isn’t far round the corner. Due to my dirty past as coarse/specimen fisherman about a third of them are by Chris Yates, John Bailey, Rod Hutchinson and their pals.

Even before I started into the world of fly fishing , I started reading probably the number 1 mover in fly fishing literature, John Gierach, who with his “off the wall” titles and a mixture of gonzo humour and refusal to conform to the accepted “salmon & trout are everything” world of the 80s and 90s in United States, was a forerunner for today’s world of fly fishing where if it swims, someone is chasing it with a fly rod. Even though I’ve never cast a line in America, Gierach’s tales of fishing for carp, pike, bass and yes even trout are one of the biggest influences on my fishing today. As much as the fishing Gierach tells us about Coffee, road trips, mountain hiking, diners, fishing buddies, camping, drinking, fly tying, bamboo rods (I’m not even going down that road) that sums up the life of a trout bum.


 2 of the many shelves

He steadfastly refuses to go the route of instruction and just tells his tales of fishing and the life orbiting it. Over the years I’ve collected all his books and 2014 is a Gierach year where a new title hits the shelves in Spring and Diane contacts Paul ay Coch Y Bonduu Books and orders me a signed copy, a ritual in itself that has run for as least 14 years.

So what about James (Boo) Gilbraith’s book – Terminal Chancer, Silver Seasons Alantic Salmon?

Let’s get it straight from the off this isn’t fly fishing – Boo is a salmon angler. Boo fishes the fly if conditions are right and he fishes it bloody well. However if he feels that his best chance of a salmon is spinning he will spin or go total darkside and fish the prawn and that’s about as much instruction on salmon fishing you will get out of this book…


I bump into Boo and his pal Howey 5 or 6 times a season on the Ribble, and always enjoy a chat with them in the car park or down at my favorite pool (where he usually tongue in cheek asks for my permission to run through) and he’s always struck me as a bloke with a great sense of humor, who always has a tale to tell. So when I heard he was self publishing a book on salmon fishing, I was always betting on a Gierach feel to the book as opposed to Falkus. I was spot on, this can only be described as a wild ride.

If Hunter S Thompson, came from the Ribble Valley, fell into the world of salmon fishing and became drinking buddies with John Gireach, this is what his first salmon book would read like. This is an account of a season’s salmon fishing on the Ribble with detours into the past and up to Scotland for some famous fishing via the balancing of our need to be at the riverside with real life distractions of wives, work, kids, drinking, friendships, HR departments etc.

It’s often said that any writer of note is a keen observer of life and Boo certainly displays his observations of his and other salmon fisher’s lives and issues. I honestly believed that I was alone in secretly desiring that Orvis Zambezi vest, but clearly at least someone else has a dodgy “fashion” sense too! and as for being sat in the car, going through the anguish of picking Beat A or Beat B and being totally unable to move in fear of making the incorrect choice !!…I feel as though Boo has been quietly sat in the back of my car for half of the last season! A book that delivers a chuckle a page and a couple of out loud belly laughs every chapter, is in my view great stuff, I loved it and forgive my clichés, but I read in it in one afternoon and was honestly disappointed when I finished it and had to leave Boo’s madcap world of Ribble Salmon and return to real life. The biggest tribute to Boo I can make is that he’s currently tucked between James Babb’s “River Fool” and Negley Farson’s “Going Fishing”, on the same shelf as BB, Seth Norman, Harry Middleton, Thomas McGuane and a little known author by the name of E Hemmingway.

In the spirit of the book I’m writing this at my desk, while I really should be upstairs in a meeting listening to the boss talk through the financing of a take-over – I hope Boo will be proud of me.

I am sat at a table on a little square by St Pauls Bay in Malta, I have been in this very spot a few times over the last five days, the past two times I have been in this spot I have been routed for a long time, I have been reading. I am now no longer reading, I have run out of book, I still have to waste time before it is lunch but I am uninspired in a post book low and decide to head back to the hotel. On returning to the hotel I explain to my folks that I am back early and that the book I have just finished was really excellent. Reunited with my phone I see I have a facebook message, it is from Boo Gilbraith whose book I have literally just finished reading… spooky bastard… that was some timing fella.
I am not just saying all this because I know Boo and I know loads of folk involved in the book or indeed people involved in the implied soundtrack that scores the book so beautifully… I am mainly saying nice things about the book because I have been a little bit afraid of Boo’s wife since I was 13 or so…
Terminal Chancer is not a fishing book, granted you will accidentally learn about it by accident but the book is about getting away with it, a noble and beautiful thing. The words are warm and the stories funny “tu me fait chier” very nearly rendered me helpless in the November sunshine. He is a course fisherman so if you are offended by swears you should not read this book until you have got a grip… buy this book… it is very good.



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