100 years of angling great Dick Walker

Frank Guttfield

Peter Thomas with two 3lb Kennet barbel(Frank with a 5 lb 1/4 chub from the Upper Ouse)



We have read in Classic Angling’s latest issue the sad news of Frank Guttfield’s recent death.

From the ‘Letter’ section of Richard Walker – Biography of An Angling Legend Frank Guttfield tells of his: “first ‘meeting’ with Dick circa 1948 in Arlesey when I was nine. At that time Dick was emerging as a regular angling writer”.

A few years later Frank tells of many visits to Richard’s home in Hitchin and it was during 1954-55 that Richard taught Frank to cast fly on the river Oughton, and they fished together on the lake at Southill Park, in Bedfordshire.

In 1956 aged 16 Frank tells of catching a very big ‘wild’ brown trout from the Upper River Ivel near Astwick, it weighed 6lb 14oz. Due to Richard’s encouragement Frank did write an account of how he caught that big trout, and with his help and advice from Jack Thorndike (the Editor) the 600 word piece was published in Angling Times.

In 1964 Richard volunteered to read the typed manuscript of a book that Frank had written, and later wrote a Foreword for In Search of Big Fish.  Although many anglers will have read the book, as it was published so long ago, we think it tells us about the young Frank:

“While this book was being written, there appeared in the angling Press a good deal of criticism of our younger angling writers, on the grounds that they had insufficient experience either to form opinions or to presume to advise others.

These critics had presumably never learned that what matters is not how long a man has been learning, but what he has learned.  In World War II, young men learned very quickly to perform such jobs as flying Spitfires, and they did it so well that they made history.  Provided that some driving force exists, be it patriotism, love of liberty, adventure, self-preservation or profit, young men learn fast.

In the case of the author of this book, the driving force is enthusiasm.  Frank Guttfield has been, from the age of nine or ten years, one of the most enthusiastic anglers I have ever known.  This, and an open mind, have made him into a most successful angler, with a score of big fish to his credit that can seldom have been equalled by any other angler of his age.  Frank’s successes are not due to privilege or luck.  Most of them have been achieved on hard-fished Club or ticket waters, and what is important about them is that they stemmed from carefully thought-out planning.  When he is fishing, Frank Guttfield always knows exactly what he is fishing for, and his methods are carefully chosen to suit his purpose.  Ask him why he is fishing in a particular way, or chosen a particular bait, and he can tell you.  When he has told you, you have usually learned something useful, because Frank has the rare gift of being able to pass on his knowledge in a simple, forthright way that anyone can understand.

The book consists of a straightforward account of what happened in a year’s fishing by Frank and his friends.  It does not seek to instruct, but it cannot fail to do that.  It makes what is nowadays called compulsive reading.  Frank brought me his original manuscript one evening and I finished reading it at 3 a.m. next morning.  I couldn’t put it down.
It is more than an account of angling adventures; it is the expression of the modern attitude to angling that more and more young men of high intelligence are finding so attractive.  This fishing of the 1960’s is not concerned with the edibility of the fish, with whether they are called “coarse” or “game”.  It is not even concerned with competition against other anglers, or with attacking existing records, though many think it is.  Those who enjoy it find that their pleasure in success is proportional to the size of the problems that were solved.

Accordingly, this book unfolds some of the problems that Frank Guttfield met in his year, and tells how he set about solving them.”



Frank Gutfield’s early experiences led to a long and happy fishing life, and many articles appeared in angling journals including “The Fishing Gazette” when edited by Pat Marston (Walker), for anglers to appreciate.

We extend our sincere kind thoughts to Frank’s widow, and his children, on their loss.

Frank Guttfield died on the 12th June 2015, and was cremated at Amersham Crematorium on the 1st July 2015.

Jackie and Frank Guttfield
(Jackie and Frank)


Frank Guttfield
Frank with the 8lb 2oz chub he caught in The Thames near their home in Bisham, Marlow, on March 10. One of the largest ever recorded from the river and was caught just three months before his death in June).

  Copyright dickwalker.co.uk 2015.