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 Releasing a rainbow trout back in to the water
 ‘ takes place from summer to late winter, respecting the spawning season for coarse species such as carp and pike, that apex predator, the meanest dude in the ‘hood. The largest are female. The wise pike angler wears gauntlets; her teeth are brutal. “And if she gets away, she promises you this: she will come for you and finish the job you started,”- that’s Bob Mortimer again, sounding like he’s reading from a Jaws script. Coarse fishing is performed in colder months, tempting fish with maggots, worms and confected baits.
Game fishing is trout and salmon, between spring and the end of the year. It involves moving upriver a yard at a time, around banks, or in a boat; live bait is forbidden, so alternative deceptions are required. Few people eat coarse fish (except the French, of course, who will eat almost anything), and although catching salmon and trout used to lead to the dining table, almost all game fish are now returned to the water.
At the beginning of April – though not this one, of course – I can be found on a lake in pursuit of trout that are feeding voraciously to regain condition after spawning.
This lake is Blackdyke, owned by two great people; Dean and Niki, who is audibly and exuberantly Australian, and teaches yoga by the lakeside. Here, as elsewhere, much is done unseen by volunteers. The Riverfly Partnership, for example, audits river invertebrates as a surrogate for water quality. When a pollution event damages the ecology, we notify the Environment Agency, who are obliged to investigate. Riverfly people are mostly fishermen.
We use flies, hooks dressed with feathers,
silk and wool; most seek to resemble the insects the fish feed on, and much imagination goes into their creation. Flies can be presented on the surface, as a hatching or dying insect; or deep. The fly has little weight. The backwards- and-forwards action of the fly fisherman uses the weight of the line, not the fly, to place it exactly where the fisherman believes his quarry to lie; behind a rock in a river, in the shadow of a tree, where it is feeding on insects falling from branches, or as they hatch from the surface.
The best fishing days need not involve catching fish: Seeing a red deer at dawn, then watching the mist rise from the water as the sun comes up. Watching mayflies hatching and blanketing the surface, then being devoured by hungry trout. Watching a salmon leap a weir.
If you read one book on fishing, make it Luke Jennings’ Blood Knots. One story concerns Captain Robert Nairac GC, who was murdered by the IRA, while undercover, and something of a wild spirit. The day before he died, in defiance of all regulation, he crossed the border into the Irish Republic, and went fishing.
Blood Knots: Luke Jennings. ISBN 978-4-84887- 133-5.
Gone Fishing: Bob Mortimer & Paul Whitehouse. ISBN 978-1-78870-195-2.
Blackdyke Fishery: Blackdyke Road, Hockwold cum Wilton, IP26 4JW. 01842829154. Now open. Advance bookings only.
Kerry Jordan with a pike caught from Culford Lake. Admire the jaws (hers, not his) and observe the protective gauntlets
Clear waters for game fishing

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