Reflections on my first sea­son

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An­early 54 I have come late to the fine art. Over the past year I have read most edi­tions of the Mail and feel it is time to put down a few ob­ser­va­tions.

The rivers I fish have proven hard. To be hon­est, I haven’t caught much. I was, though, priv­i­leged to weigh and pho­to­graph a 15 lb 10 oz bar­bel, and to marvel at the power and beauty of this golden spec­i­men.

I fished early. I fished at mid­day. I fished into dark. I walked with lures on scorch­ing hot days. I sat leg­ering, be­side the river, freez­ing.

I have learned the grin­ner, spade-end and knot­less knots from a friend, the bar­bel catcher. He ad­vised me on tackle and gen­tly pointed me in the right di­rec­tion, with­out claim­ing to have all the an­swers.

The an­gling ad­ven­ture should be about dis­cov­ery as well as fol­low­ing sound ad­vice. Other an­glers I met var­ied from the chatty, funny guys keen to share opin­ions (and moan about there be­ing no fish) to those who turned away, pulling up their hood, pre­fer­ring not to en­gage – and that is there right.

Then there were those in a state of reverie who could not be­lieve their luck at pulling out a big chub. I al­ways pre­fer to be­lieve their sto­ries. It is not for me to judge their prove­nance.

The club bailiffs have been fine. Keen to share READ­ING Roger Sur­gay’s tales in AM (March 20 and 27), I had to smile, as when I went to a Dragon Carp show in Ket­ter­ing I bought some tackle, in­clud­ing a bite alarm. It was only a fiver, but when I got home and tried it, it was no good.

So when he came up to a show at the Villa ground I took it back. I queued up and as usual he came down the line of pun­ters say­ing: “Get your ex­pe­ri­ence, they know their wa­ters well. There was only one dis­agree­ment. It seems that not all who watch over our fish­eries are in full knowl­edge of their own rules. The ex­pe­ri­ence was dis­con­cert­ing enough to re­ally put the hon­est an­gler off – but not for long.

The tackle hunger has also grabbed me, and I find I have an as­sort­ment or rods, reels, whips, a pole and all the rig para­pher­na­lia to go with it.

I have read so much an­gling lit­er­a­ture and been in­flu­enced by older, more tra­di­tional meth­ods. A year ago I’d never heard of Richard Walker or Fred J. Tay­lor. The meth­ods of past and present match an­glers have also been stud­ied, and I have tried to em­brace all tac­tics and ideas. There’s a lot of catch­ing up to do.

New an­gler I may be, but I have been a ram­bler and long dis­tance walker for 40 years, with a good knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ence of be­ing out­doors. I have been dis­ap­pointed in the at­ti­tudes of cer­tain an­glers with re­gard to ot­ters, cor­morants and other crea­tures that may de­vour our quarry.

We need to man­age our fish­eries, but we need to be care­ful of bal­anc­ing our ac­tions. Per­haps fail­ure to do this in the past has led to where we are now, so let us not com­pound things and get it

tick­ets ready, we open in five…”

I spoke to Roger about the alarm and he said: “When you get in the hall, come and re­mind me.” I went straight to his stall be­fore he got busy, he took the alarm back, said sorry and handed me a boxed set of three. I told him I would pay the dif­fer­ence. He said no, it was no prob­lem. Roger is true to his word. Top man!

P.S. Get those shows back on – we miss ’em!

Brian Bid­dle, via email. Neil Os­borne en­joyed his first full sea­son, at the age of 53-years-old. Neil’s high­lights in­cluded tak­ing his son Tommy fish­ing on the River Lea.

wrong with our fu­ture ac­tions, by culling, for ex­am­ple.

As for the Close Sea­son, it may seem odd that still­wa­ters and some canals can be fished, but I think it should re­main the same.

Why? Well, look at the spawn­ing pe­riod of coarse fish and most fall in the Close Sea­son. There are vari­a­tions be­tween lo­ca­tions and rivers, but the three-month pe­riod that we cur­rently have works.

Cel­e­brate the fact that we can still fish other lo­ca­tions and let the rivers be. Visit them for a stroll and watch spring grow into sum­mer. Or stay at home,

Dick Walker was ahead of his time

THE an­swer to Tom Legge’s ques­tion about why Dick Walker wasn’t crit­i­cised over ‘Clarissa’ (AM, April 3) is that he was a man ahead of his time.

At the time it was ac­cepted that spec­i­men fish, es­pe­cially records, were set up. The pre­vi­ous two carp, and the then roach and rudd records (and oth­ers, I ex­pect) had all been killed and set up.

clean and check your kit, tie rigs and flies and make a plan to do some­thing new on the rivers when the sea­son comes.

My first sea­son ended on a cold bank with the sun set­ting through bare trees, a scene that made me shud­der in the face of na­ture. I feel hon­oured to have been there. It was an­other blank.

Undeterred, I have re-joined my clubs, got my new li­cence and made plans for the Close Sea­son and all that lies be­yond.

As Bernard Ven­ables said: “Fish­ing is worth no more than its plea­sure.”

Neil Os­borne,

North Finch­ley, Lon­don.

Roger mem­o­ries

Dick, in his own words, “re­solved that the fish should not be killed,” but also, I be­lieve, thought that he would not be be­lieved un­less the fish could be pro­duced, so the only an­swer was an aquar­ium.

Okay, no one else had the chance to catch her, but thou­sands upon thou­sands of an­glers could, and did, go to see her.

Right de­ci­sion, in my opin­ion. Ian Campbell,

Staines, Mid­dle­sex.

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