A wild, wet and windy morning in Foxford. I think we are now getting used to the wind and rain, even though the week was at times wintry it didn’t feel too bad. There’s not so many fish showing around Foxford now. This may be because of the high-water levels but I think most of them have now headed on up to find spawning ground. The tributaries are very high and, in some cases, have come up over the banks so it’s too soon to check them out but id imagine there is a fair amount of activity. Normally at this time of the winter we would have been to a beach or done some pike fishing. Unfortunately, so far this winter we still didn’t get a chance to fish, life and the things it throws at one are getting in the way. I did mention a friend who was out after pike a couple of weeks ago and he had had some success, he sent me a message on Monday to say he had another good day last Sunday, so there is fishing to be had. The biggest problem now is the water levels are so high that access is almost impossible and dangerous.
As I write this and talking about Pike angling catch and release springs to mind. It’s a subject that comes up on a regular basis in the shop and I said i’m going to write about it in the blog this winter. The problem with writing about it in the blog is that it’s a big issue. Big as in everyone has an opinion and as often is the case with opinions whether correct or incorrect, people believe that they are right, their opinion is correct and they are willing to fight to defend their opinion. This is not the forum for that, I want this blog to be enjoyable and somewhat informative. However, it is something that I feel needs to be discussed so I will give MY OPINION (said with a smile). No, I’m just going to give you some of my thoughts and observations. The longer version will have to wait for another while.
The beginning: It’s my belief that our sport of angling came from a need to provide food for the table. We were hunter gatherers and thus lived of the land. We hunted and fished, fed our families and friends. In reality what I’m talking about there, surviving off the land, is a long time ago and we, as in you and I, have never actually survived off the land, we have never needed to. It is though part of our foundation, our roots, and I believe forms some of our instinct. I can say with certainty that in my early life catching fish to eat was important and I know that in my grandfathers time it was even more so. Now if we go back further to say my Great grandfather or his father, it was essential and the method of capture did not matter. At some point or if we study it closer all along the way between my great grandfather and my son there has been change. We could look at this period and see what the changes were but for this short blog that would be too much. Its fair enough to say that economically we are better off and the availability and variety of food is better. I’m not saying that overall, that is better, just from a point of view of needing to kill fish.
Change: So, my great great grandfather used a gaff or a spear and my son used a top of the range lightweight fly rod to catch the same species. What has happened over the years is that we have a change of purpose. The angler who buys a rod from me today is not buying a tool to feed his/her family, no, they are buying an item to use for sport and recreation. We go fishing for fun today but yet deep down inside us is the hunter gather instinct, a want to provide. Like a sheep dog whos’ parents and grandparents were working dogs, even if the pup grows up in the city never seeing a sheep, its instinct is to chase and herd. Something we cannot understand, something we cannot see makes us want to fish, our foundation and roots. In recent years and I would say especially in the past ten years there has been a great swing towards Catch and release. The pressure is on, fish stocks are in trouble we should not kill and those who do are almost ridiculed. We see it all the time now on social media, keyboard warriors having a go at other anglers for killing a fish, this to me is wrong. I believe that if we remove the foundation and roots of our sport, we will damage it. We will breed out the instinct and eventually there will be very little reason to fish. Angling is not a sexy sport; it doesn’t exactly attract people.
The future: I believe that the way forward is education from a young age. As adults we should teach young people how to catch fish, yes to kill and to eat, to enjoy with our families, to provide. However, we should teach them to do this with respect for nature and the finite resource we take this food from. We should teach them that there is fun and enjoyment to be had in nature and in following our instinct. We should teach them about balance, putting something back when we take something, not killing for no reason, the future, the environment. This to me is evolution and the way it should be done. Ridiculing our fellow sportsmen, banning pictures of “Dead fish” will not work (IFI please take note). I enjoy a Salmon dinner with my family, I enjoy the splash of water hitting my face as a Salmon flicks its tail leaving my grasp, to continue its journey. I was once a commercial fisherman and now I am an angler, that instinct is still there but I have some common sense as well.