Last year brought about a few changes in the world of angling that may benefit all of us in the future, and the hope that by the end of 1968 we will be just a bit stronger politically by becoming a unanimous and persuasive voice to those people who are supposed to listen. The opportunities are there to be grasped by those we purport to support. providing there is sufficient support from all factions of the angling fraternity.
In the past, the many differences of opinion about angling matters, has tended to cloud the awareness that the whole field of angling is worthy, whether it is one in which we wish to (or are able to) participate or not. Decreasing fisheries could cause the rifts to increase, as different interests scheme to gain control of limited waters, whereas the battle should be for a 'togetherness' to make available more fisheries, and so allow all to do the fishing they choose.
I think that many coarse fishers have a feeling that this is a cause that of necessity must be number one, and I sincerely hope that game fishers and even sea fishers will turn their thoughts to that one aim. These latter anglers will find that problems will multiply and a stronger backing than their own group will be beneficial to them in future years. I don't wish to make this a political article, but rather give the point of view that no branch of angling is to be despised by any other. As an angler with limited time who takes every opportunity to fish for every kind of fish that is within reach, and by every method that I know, I find that my preferences fade when occupied with a particular species, or when fishing in a particular manner.
Of course, given a choice I will pick one rather than the other, but in this civiiized world of ours we do not always have a choice and a true angler will make the best of the opportunities available to him. When we can we will make opportunities and take opportunities to follow our preferences, which may involve long journeys and much expense; but so long as we enjoy ourselves (and that is surely what matters) the end justifies the means.
The most popular aim among coarse fishers today is to be a "specimen hunter", and a grand way of following the sport it is too. Nothing is too much trouble to the dedicated man and he must possess many virtues. He must be patient, knowledgeable, quiet, tidy, even technically efficient in a way; part naturalist, etc. I have met many such labelled anglers, both young, middle-aged, and a few nearing the state of being elderly, but I personally would not class all of them as real specimen hunters. The ability to learn the answers to, and beat, a particular water so that the largest of its inhabitants are caught, defeats some of them, and the search for pastures new with easier problems to solve takes over. Nothing wrong in this to my way of thinking, for life is short: but if you label yourself a real specimen hunter, defeat should never be acknowledged.
Still, I know plenty of specimen hunters, including some very young ones, who do succeed.
The angler of today has a wealth of written knowledge that must help shorten the road to success providing he applies and modifies the written word to his own waters, and does not follow blindly, but I think this has led to a poor attitude by some people through having big fish 'laid on a plate' so to speak. What I, other anglers, and many of my specimen hunting friends object to, is the intolerance of some specimen anglers towards other kinds of anglers and towards what we know to be fish worth catching, whether or not they come up to a minimum size laid down by some self-appointed body.
This big-head attitude is a way towards causing friction between specimen anglers and other anglers, and is one of the things that won't help unity.
Specimen hunters need to knock some of their mates down to size,
We all know that a few game fishermen have prejudices towards their own views - mostly upon how one should or should not fish for the salmonids. Let somebody mention in the Press that he caught a trout on a maggot or worm, and it's certain that letters will arrive at the newspaper or magazine offices the following week saying what a terrible fellow the captor is.
I'm lucky enough to be able to fish trout waters occasionally where dry fly only is permitted, where dry fly or upstream nymph only is permitted - where a fly-only rule allows wet fly and lures - and waters where 'anything goes'. Bait such as worm, maggot, spinners, small fish, or what have you is allowed. I thoroughly enjoy my trips to all these waters and take pleasure in catching fish by all the different methods.
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At times any of the methods make success easy, at other times, damned hard; but I would not place a preference on any. Some anglers would though, and good luck to them. There's nothing wrong with a preferred method of fishing providing you don't try to ram your ideas down somebody else's throat.
By all means have fly-only waters and stick to the majority ruling or get out, but if an angler fishes a water with bait where it is perfectly legitimate, don't call him names. Let him enjoy himself as he chooses.
The same applies to salmon anglers' although to a lesser extent, but some of them are also intolerent towards the legitimate methods of other anglers' fishing, if different to their own.
I have a preference: it is trotting, but I wouldn't say to other anglers that they should fish my way only as mine is the only sporting one. A fish on the end of the line, felt through a rod, is sport, however it got there!
Game fishermen, more tolerence to each other please!
And while on the subject of salmon fishing, some coarse fishers I know cry that they cannot afford salmon fishing and bleat about "rich" anglers. Anybody who really wants to fish salmon can do so if they make the effort. It may be only at holiday time that there is an opportunity but a week's salmon fishing can be as cheap as a week's holiday anywhere else.
And those who talk of tiddler snatching with a sneer? I've been guilty myself, but let's face it, to catch two or three hundred tiny fish within a short time takes considerable skill, and at times the decision to do this or to concentrate on heavier fish if available must demand a fair knowledge of the fish, conditions, water, etc. To be consistently in the running shows a lot more know-how about fishing, than that possessed by a lot of those who sneer about tiddler snatching.
It seems to me a pity that money has become such a big part of matches, but it's here to stay so the only thing to say is to "keep it clean".
As long as the strong match-fishing clubs and associations allow others to exist who do not want to participate, I see no reason for friction.
One thing we may all have to become more tolerant of, whatever branch of the sport we follow, is other water users - especially those in boats. This species seem to be on the increase and the attendance at the boat show in January showed the popularity of "mucking aboot on't watter".
Perhaps I am leaving the main flow of thought here, but I would like to say that, although a boat can be a great help in fishing, for on large waters or at sea the advantages are obvious, boat owners should be considerate to bank anglers and appreciate that with their advantages it is unfair to go and plant your boat right over a man's leger lead even though you may be well offshore.
To return to the main theme of this article, which is to try and show that we should be one happy family Unhappy with our lot as it is at present, but with much hope of better things to come.
I love my bit of coarse fishing, my bit of trout fishing, my bit of fly fishing, my bit of sea fishing, my bit of salmon fishing, specimen hunting, etc., etc., and if I were denied them all except one, I would happily go on participating in that one until I was no longer able to wield a rod - and I feel all you true anglers who become so emotional over your own type of angling would do the same.
If anglers would broaden their interests as much as possible it is possible that some would broaden their views as well and appreciate all angling for what it is - good fun!