Let’s all be mates on the river banks

Sharing is all about the fun of fishing. Sharing is all about the fun of fishing.

John Bailey
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
10:07 AM

I was fascinated by the results of a recent Angler’s Mail online poll.

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When asked what would help angling the most in 2014, an incredible 45pc answered, better harmony between anglers.

More effective control on predators was second, but way behind on 17pc. In clear third, catching and prosecuting more poachers got 15pc of the vote whilst restocking rivers scraped into double figures with 12pc.

Well how about that? But perhaps we shouldn’t be too surprised. We live in such a stressed, traumatic age that perhaps most of us, 45pc of us at least, go fishing to actually get away from the stresses and strains, not to reinforce them. There is a lot of sniping in angling, especially in the specimen hunting world. Virtually all of it is totally unnecessary. There is something about fishing that seems to bring out the worst in some of its participants but then, reading some of the internet, no sports come out stunningly well in this regard.

There is that old phrase coined by Isaak Walton, “The brotherhood of the angle”. Deep down, I think we all agree with this sentiment and perhaps 2014 is the year to actually start giving it its rightful place.

Over several years, I’ve been integrally involved with the running of the Kingfisher Fishing Club, down in Lyng, on the Wensum Valley. Now, top-flight carpers are supposed to be a hard-nosed, selfish lot, but this is not what I’ve found in the least. One of the privileges of being involved with the KFC has been the fantastic spirit and friendship I and all the other members have been shown. There’s a real feeling of togetherness, of belonging and trying to sort out challenges together. The place is geographically beautiful, the fish are stunning, but it’s this spirit that I enjoy above all.

Just the other week, on a pit very close to Kingfisher, I guided a group of anglers, one of whom took a pike just under 30lb. The 
reaction of the other anglers could hardly have been bettered. They all wound in their own lines and careered round the lake to take part in the weighing and photographic ceremonies. Congratulations showered down like the late winter rain on the beaming captor.

His own pleasure was multiplied 10 times by the excitement he read on the faces around him. And, of course, the joy of the occasion washed over the other anglers themselves. Though they hadn’t caught that magnificent pike, it was almost as though they had done, so great was their participation in the event.

Many years ago, I realised that a lot of the fishing I was doing was just so difficult that any triumph, mine or that of my colleagues, was to be celebrated. I coined the phrase, “being there.” I still believe this is the key. If you are fishing for very rare, very large, very careful wild fish, just to see them is a massive result.

I realised all this with startling clarity back in 1989. It was my first trip to the Himalayas with a travelling companion who was, shall I say, prickly. He was probably a better angler than me, certainly more experienced on those gushing Indian torrents, and he certainly caught more fish. The trouble was, if I did prove to be lucky on any one day, the guy would sulk the night away. I began to realise his misery and his pain and to see that it just was not worth the while.

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