Illuminated by Water is a book about the author’s own decades-long passion for fly fishing and how it has shaped the way he sees and thinks about the natural world. That passion is shared and made legible here, not just for other anglers, but for those who have never yet cast a line in the water. Why is it that catching fish—or even thinking about catching fish—can be so thrilling, so captivating? Why is it that time spent beside water can be imprinted so sharply in the memory? Why is it that what seems a simple act of casting a line and hoping can feel so rich in mystery?
Alternating between regional and thematic chapters, Tallack considers ‘wildness’, its pursuit, and its meanings; the compulsive appeal of tying flies; the ethics of catching and killing; the allure of big fish; and beauty—where it’s sought and where it’s found. He describes fly fishing trips to America, Canada, Shetland, and England. Throughout the book, certain themes recur—environmental harm and healing; the relationship between fishing and time; hope and its manifestations; and the ways in which angling can deepen engagement with the natural world.