Saturday, 26 December 2009

An Angler Reborn

After thirty years of specimen hunting in rivers and lakes, I found that I was no longer enjoying my fishing. Unless a water offered a realistic chance of beating a personal best I wasn't interested in visiting it. I had been sucked into the numbers game to the point that I was only enjoying the destination (another specimen sized fish or new personal best) and not the journey.

Catching big fish is not difficult and having an impressive personal best list does not necessarily mean that you are a good angler.

To my mind a good angler is one who can catch any species of fish in any conditions.

How many anglers nowadays are all rounders? Back in the days the long defunct Angling magazine many of its writers were true all rounders, fly fishing for trout in the spring on the reservoirs, surfcasting for bass through the summer and long trotting for chub and roach on the winter rivers. Surely this is what real fishing is all about, experiencing a variety of locations, methods and species in all seasons of the year!

Does anyone remember the Fishing Race from the 70's in which several pairs of anglers, including Jim Gibbinson, Clive Gammon and Ian Gilliespie, had 72 hours in which to capture as many species of fish as possible in order to win the "Golden Maggot"? More recently Matt Hayes and Mick Brown's The Great Rod Race saw the protagonists race around the country attempting to catch all of Britain's freshwater species in 30 days.

For me the greatest angling achievement of 2009 was Sussex Angler Dave Park (aged 75) catching a bitterling, bringing his total of species caught in British waters to 100. Can you remember as a beginner the thrill of catching a new species for the first time, Dave Park has experienced this 100 times!

The challenge was set 100 species of fish from British waters in three years starting on 1 January 2010. An angler was reborn!