Ebook review: Tigerfish! to Dodofish – Fishing on West Africa’s Niger River, A Photo Journal by M. Sid Kelly


This is not the first book on fishing that I have read or reviewed but it is certainly the most exotic. It is also much more than just a book on fearsome fish from far off rivers.
From the dust cover: “If you go to live on the Niger River in West Africa for two years, DON’T FORGET YOUR FISHING POLE! Things are rarely what you think they are, and it can all turn very exciting at any moment. The author is a professional fish biologist with a keen interest in figuring out what the heck is going on…
How do you handle an electric fish, and what if you screw up?
What happens when a cobra tries to get in the boat?
Which lure do need to catch Nile perch, catfish, Tilapia, tigerfish, etc?
Where do you catch a tigerfish, and then how do you deal with its teeth?
And what fish is going to kill you if you eat it?
This is a story of fish, fishers, and fishing as experienced by the author and his wife during their two-year service as U.S. Peace Corps volunteers in Mali from 1992 to 1994, and during a return trip in 2005. This photo-journal contains 106 color pictures and 13,000 words-worth of stories. It opens with sport fishing, and details the author’s pursuit of tigerfish, Nile perch, and other species including the dubious dodo. The second part is an account of experiences and observations made during the large community fishing events that take place in the waters of the floodplain during the dry season. You may have seen similar events on viral videos. But here you will find an explanation of what these events are really about. Put your assumptions aside… The third section provides a brief description and numerous pictures of the life and work of small-scale commercial Somono fishers. The appendix contains links to the author’s videos.”
My Ebook review: Kelly brings his trademark writing style to this work and delivers a book on fishing that is more than just that. We learn about the people and the locations as well as the aquatic inhabitants. It is almost an anthropology text; we learn a lot about the people and their lives and ways of life.
It is essential for any book on fishing that it is more than simply a string of tackle related anecdotes and descriptions of the one that got away. Kelly has produced a book of class about fishing in a region where few of us are likely to get the chance to visit.
The descriptions are typical Kelly with a mixture of absolute self-effacing honesty and intelligent insight. For example: “…right or wrong swapping your cigarettes for fish can’t be a bad thing…” is a keeper of a quote whilst reading how even a long term education in marine biology does not lessen the shock with which a fish greets the angler in the heat of battle is priceless sitcom.

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