M'lud glowers sternly at the raggle taggle bunch in the dock, clad in one-piece suits and moon boots.
"Anglers, you stand before me charged with apathy," he roars as their heads hang in shame. "How do you plead?"

Angling's on trial whether we like it or not. And they've got us bang to rights when it comes to defending our public image. The case for the prosecution is watertight. Ignorance is no defence. And no-one can claim the US-based People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) crept up on us un-noticed anyway. But while the writing's been on the wall for months - ever since the animal rights lobby first revealed its plans to attack us - what have we done about it? Errr, not very much your honour.
"Little wonder you found yourselves before me then," says the learned judge. "But before I pass sentence, I am obliged to take into account the remorse that you have shown and your efforts to change your offending. "I have heard in mitigation that you love your sport and it plays a considerable part in preserving the aquatic environment. "I therefore propose a conditional discharge, in the hope I never find you before me again."

Let's face it, we've only got ourselves to blame. Maybe in the years to come we'll even come to thank the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals for launching its threatened advertising campaign against fishing - assuming it ever materialises.
The world's biggest animal rights group, with its 700,000 supporters and seven-figure campaign budget, has been chipping away at American anglers for more than a decade.
And in all this time, they've achieved next to nothing. So why have they suddenly decided to launch themselves on us. Why pick on Britain, where angling is the biggest participant sport? Our apathy when it comes to defending ourselves is only half the story. Get our heads out of the sand, see the big picture and it might just be the saving of us.

Let's look at the media first. Like it or not, it's the real battleground when it comes to public opinion and convincing the powers that be that things need changing.
Numbers of people doing things equates to public interest as far as every newsdesk in the land is concerned. The more people a story affects, the greater its news value.
Any attack on what three million-odd people do and love is a valuable commodity, because they're all going to buy the papers to read it. Comparing our media awareness with theirs is like comparing a rod pod bristling with carbon fibre with some old bamboo cane from the garden centre with safety pin whipped on for eyes. We're a bit behind them on this score. Despite the fact the news of the 'hooked dog' image first broke months ago, it still made several national newspapers, bringing free advertising worth tens of thousands. And they haven't even started their advertising campaign yet. Oddly enough, angling seems to have done nothing to prepare itself once again. So they stole a march on us.

Perhaps we need to start getting networks of properly-trained people in place who can respond to such attacks, instead of giving the Countryside Alliance another opportunity to make capital off angling's back for its last-ditch attempt to save hunting.
All this costs money, of course. And they've got much more of it than we have, if you believe the widely touted claims PETA's bulging campaigning coffers run to 13million.
Hmm. Three million odd of us go fishing. If we all cared enough to chip a fiver in, we'd have 15million in our campaigning pot.

PETA is not a single-issue group dedicated to bringing an end to angling. It campaigns on a number of fronts, uniting supporters who want to see an end to everything from meat eating to animal expriments under a single banner. Nothing in angling's shaky response to the latest broadside drew attention to the fact these are people who won't stop at fishing, the fur trade or circuses. Their avowed aim is to turn us all vegan. Here in the UK, the animal rights movement remains fragmented. Single issue groups target particular areas of "animal abuse" with everything from letters to their MP and placards, to arson attacks and letter bombs. The single anti-angling group, Pisces, has a tiny membership compared to organisations like the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection, Animal Aid and the League against Cruel Sports - which throughout its history has never attacked anglers.

PETA's attack on angling isn't just out of step with the wider public, who no more want to stop eating meat and wearing leather as you do fishing. It's also out of step with its own supporters, who would already have joined Pisces in droves if angling was anywhere on their agenda. Let's have a debate by all means. It might just provoke the rank and file to get their bums of their seatboxes and make the sport's ruling bodies realise the threat is there but they can see it off - If they only get their acts together.