Sunday, 19 May 2013

When a Pastime Becomes Quality Time

Being back in the UK has enabled me to return to one of my favourite activities - Sports-Fishing in lakes and rivers with my buddy (son) and very talented angler, Matthew.




A day spent with Mattie on the banks of river or on an idyllic old manor lake such as Old Bury Hill, is a day well spent. In fact I can't think of anything I'd rather do.

Mattie and I get the chance to talk for hours, interrupted only by the frequent landing of fish and Mattie's desire to feed the many water fowl around, such as Mallard ducks, Canadian geese, coots, moor-hens and swans.

Yesterday I woke up at 5:15 (earlier than on a normal working day) to get ready for the 30 mile drive to our favourite lake, Old Bury Hill.  At 5:35 Mattie rang my mobile just to make sure I hadn't overslept.  By 7:00 we were ready to start fishing.


Old Bury Hill lake - Dorking, Surrey
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It wasn't long before Mattie got into the thick of the action - and went on to catch around 20 sizable fish (twice as many as I did).  Mattie has obviously picked up his angling skills from...er...me!


From a dozen bream...



...to a few carp...


 ...and a tench, made it the "first" time this pupil has beat his teacher. Needless to say I was delighted for him.

While on the subject of angling and just before anyone wishes to criticize the sport, I would like to remind you that fishing is NOT a cruel activity. Research shows, beyond all reasonable doubt, that fish do not suffer any adverse effects from being landed and released by sports anglers. There are many reports of the same fish being caught by different anglers on the same day, proving the fish have not suffered any trauma and resumed normal activity soon after being released. A fish's mouth is it's tool and strongest part of the body. The tiny pin prick caused by the hook is not detrimental to it's well being. If fish felt pain when hooked they would not pull against the hook and increase pressure. A bull or cow will follow whoever is pulling it by the rope attached to it's nose-ring - because it feels pain or discomfort if it doesn't. The very opposite of a hooked fish's reaction.

More importantly, angling allows us to fulfil the basic human instinct of hunter-gatherer. Just as a cat will hunt a mouse or bird, even when not hungry, the angler catches his quarry to hone his survival skills and satisfy his primal instinct to hunt.  As the old saying goes "give a man a fish and you will feed him for a day - give him the rod and line and he will feed himself and his family from then on."

 And no, I'm not trying to convince myself.

:)

20 comments:

  1. I think Auberon Waugh once said fish enjoy being fished, but he may have been joking. Personally, I prefer the way bears do it - no line, no hook, just two big paws.

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    1. Haha, you're a very well-read simian, GB: and if I could catch them with my bare hands (bear hands) I probably would :)

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  2. I dont agree that fish feel no pain but absolutely agree that it does them minimal harm. I'm a Sport Fisherman as well and use Circle Hooks and True Turn Hooks to minimise damage to the fish. (Tuna Circle and True Turn Hooks are designed to hook a fish in the corner of the mouth only) I have always returned as many fish back to the water as I can and have on occasion caught the same fish again that day or within the next few days. In fact I believe being hooked and caught teaches the fish to look out for hooks in future. Am I catch and release fishing or am I teaching fish to NOT be caught by other fishermen?

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    1. Fish learn from their experience of being caught but it still doesn't stop them taking chances - the quality bait is worth the risk. As for "pain", well, I still say if they pull against the hook...

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    2. As you pointed out earlier the mouth is the Fishes toolkit, their mouths are quite tough and as Ive seen when I released a Flathead with a badly torn membrane around the edge of the mouth. I worried that it might not be able to feed but since the mouth edge was undamaged and working well I released the fish. Three weeks later I caught the same fish and the tear was well on the way to being grown over. I was pleased!
      If youre wondering how I know which fish I catch, I photograph them. Flathead have very marked bodies and the patterns are unique.

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    3. Ah, OK, as you say fish are distinctive from one another - I'd like to catch a Flathead but the commuting to and from your patch would do me in :)

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  3. Sounds like a great bonding exercise...although personally the five o'clock start sounds quite cruel to me!

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    1. It is hard waking up that early on my day off but somehow getting up early for fishing is not like getting up early for work! :)

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  4. One of my sons is named Matthew, too, and he loves fishing. We live by a very small lake. I never go with him.
    I love NOT fishing.

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    1. We're almost of the same opinion then, apart from one word "NOT" :)

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  5. Wow Joe, that looks beautiful there. I read a book by Chris Yates, where in the 1970s he drove around with an OS Map looking for old estate lakes. He would track down some overgrown abandoned manor house and fish the lake for carp.

    Great to see the photos of you. Looks like life is good for you and I'm so glad.

    DC

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    1. Thank you Dicky. Chris Yates is a great angler and writer. I'd love to find unknown lakes and not know what to expect. It's been a while since we had a pint and a chat - would be good to do it again soon :)

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  6. Sorry I have been a poor visitor of late! You two look as though you had an enjoyable time! Glad to see you smile!

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    1. Hi T !! Glad to know you're back :) hope all's well with you

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  7. Is that a glacial lake? Where I'm from in the Southern US, the lakes are either made from parts of old river channels (when a river changed its course), or people made them. Where I now live (in the NW US), the lakes are either glacial or volcanic in origin.

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    1. Hi Snow, that's a man-made estate lake. Built 200 years ago in a time when it was fashionable for the aristocracy to create lakes in their estates and labour was relatively cheap

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    2. Then it has a stream running through it and a dam at one end?

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    3. Yes Snow, you're right. It is stream fed and dammed

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  8. Oops, did I put a question mark at the end of that sentence? Anyway, thanks for no more word-verification.

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    1. You're welcome Snow, thanks for mentioning it :)

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