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There is Far More to Fishing Than Just Catching Fish

First and foremost, a very happy new year, I wish you health, happiness and prosperity, and thank you for taking the time to read my contribution, which I thoroughly enjoy writing. Sometimes, it is difficult to develop a theme which you may find interesting, and that encourages people to think about taking up fishing as a hobby, especially those that perhaps have fixed ideas about the morality of fishing as a sport. Last night, after returning from a committee meeting, I found my wife watching a television programme called “Our Dancing Town”, about a choreographer’s attempt to involve the people of Skipton, in Yorkshire, in a community dance through the centre of the town. Included in the run up to the main event were extracts from conversations with potential participants, including a local farmer, who explained that he felt, over the years, the people of the town had lost contact with the countryside, its importance in the production of our food and the like. Skipton is, of course, a market town in the rural countryside. So I thought I would perhaps point out one of the many great joys experienced by local anglers in this area, and the discovery of some beautiful spots that, perhaps, would otherwise remain unknown and unappreciated. In other words, there is far more to fishing than catching fish. Stealth is an important aspect of successful fishing and on one particularly memorable occasion I crept around a riverside broom bush and literally came face to face with a large heron. It is not usual to see these birds close up so until you do actually get up close, you are unlikely to get the size in perspective; this particular bird was about three feet tall, which meant that crouched as I was, we were literally face to face. I’m not sure if it’s a trick of my mind, but I feel sure that bird looked both surprised and terrified. WE both froze for what must have been a fraction of a second, but seemed much longer, before the bird dropped off the river bank, almost to water level, opened its wings and was gone. That was almost forty years ago and I can remember it as though it were yesterday. The photograph is of a heron almost one hundred yards away, and even at that I was surprised it did not make for the sky. During my fishing trips I have been lucky enough to have many magical encounters with all sorts of birds and animals, that under normal circumstances I would never have seen. One other when a beautiful barn owl flew past me, at little more than arms length, with a bird about the size of a sparrow flying just below it in formation, like the famous Lancaster bomber with a Spitfire at its wing: fantastic. These are photographs of other “secret” spots to which access has been granted to me as an angler and where I am privileged to spend some quiet and contemplative time as an angler. Thanks to my pal Paul King for providing them. There will soon be some “Try fishing days” advertised at Foxon’s local fishing tackle shop in St Asaph: they are totally free and aimed at all ages. Come along and “give it a go”, you never know you may enjoy it.