Far Bank

Turn­ing minia­ture fish into giants and mud­dy­ing the wa­ters of an­gling de­bate, ‘Fish­ing with the Gen­eral’ is three years old this sum­mer. Dom Gar­nett re­ports on a small an­gler with a big fol­low­ing...

Angling Times (UK) - - CONTENTS -

‘The Gen­eral’ re­turns...

THESE days, even the daftest of ideas can be­come an in­ter­net sen­sa­tion. Even so, I’m fairly baf­fled by the re­sponse ‘Fish­ing with The Gen­eral’ has re­ceived over the past three years.

It all started as a bizarre joke, as part of a chal­lenge to catch as many mini species as pos­si­ble with fish ex­pert Dr Mark Ever­ard.

Bull­heads, bleak and ruffe were never go­ing to look very im­pres­sive when held by two big, hairy men, and so The Gen­eral was bought for the sum of 50p at a car boot sale. He was just per­fect, and even had the out­stretched arms of a big-fish man.

The prank cer­tainly got plenty of laughs and from the start, quickly amass­ing hun­dreds of likes, shares and fol­low­ers. One-ounce gud­geon sud­denly be­came 20lb bar­bel, boot­lace eels be­came congers, and although it was per­fect non­sense, The Gen­eral cer­tainly showed a lot of for­got­ten, smaller fish in an en­tirely new light.

For my own fish­ing, it was also a healthy cue to lighten up a lit­tle. An­gling in gen­eral is so ob­sessed with catch­ing big fish that we for­get about half the species go­ing. It can be just as in­ter­est­ing to go for smaller, less com­mon fish, too.

Not that lit­tle spec­i­mens are al­ways easy. In fact, try­ing to catch those like pike, carp and chub small enough for The Gen­eral to hold has been a chal­lenge in its own right.

Per­haps in­evitably, other crea­tures and props have been found or do­nated by friends to cre­ate fur­ther non­sense and oc­ca­sional con­tro­versy. One week, The Gen­eral would be grap­pling with an eight-foot-tall cray­fish; the next he would be punch­ing a shark or deal­ing with Hi­malayan bal­sam plants the size of trif­fids.

Aside from the cheap laughs, The Gen­eral also be­came a great tool to poke some fun at the fish­ing world and its stereo­types.

Quite lib­er­at­ing, be­cause a plas­tic army man can say the sort of things you or I would be ar­rested for even think­ing, and no­body gets of­fended.

As a re­tired, Brexit-vot­ing spec­i­men hunter, The Gen­eral’s views are some­where be­tween those of Nigel Farage and Genghis Khan. Cray­fish and ot­ters re­quire a nuclear so­lu­tion; nui­sance fish should be used as fer­tiliser or land­fill. As for his views on the use of bite alarms or im­mi­gra­tion, we’d best not even go there.

Three years from the start, Fish­ing with The Gen­eral has even spawned its own series in ‘Fal­lon’s An­gler’ quar­terly, cov­er­ing var­i­ous war zones, bat­tles against in­va­sive species and some of the worst fish­ing ad­vice ever con­signed to print. Where it leads next I can’t say, although I’m cur­rently scour­ing eBay for a six-inch Don­ald Trump.

Maybe not ev­ery­one’s cup of tea po­lit­i­cally, but at least The Gen­eral reads An­gling Times...

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