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For fishermen happiness is not measured in pounds and ounces; angling.


THESE days we all seem to be living at a dreadful pace and now, in the run-up to Christmas, everyone seems to be travelling in overdrive.

Last week, I decided to slip away from it all and go and fishmy favourite stillwater fishery - the hidden jewel of Clywedog Reservoir - and there I enjoyed a calm, slow end to the season's fishing.

There are other similar leisure pastimes that can be done in slow motion and I'm sure that walking and bird watching are getting ever more popular because they are in such contrast to everyday life.

Fishing in its many guises enables one to enjoy the countryside and to my mind is one of the best ways to get to know its little secrets.

I doubt if those who travel by car, coach or train can claim to get to know a country.

When fishing one has to walk, crawl, wait, sit and watch and these activities ensure one gets into close proximity with nature. I feel sorry for anglers who do not appreciate the natural world around them and similarly of the naturalists who are ignorant of what fishing entails.

Some would say that fishers and naturalist are basically on the same wavelength and I know that fishing has taken me to many of the most interesting places on this earth and at a pace that has enabled me to appreciate everything that's going on around me.

There have been many occasions when I have had to sit down quietly on the riverbank, waiting for the trout to start feeding, and that wait proved to be the highlight of the day. Last year, for well over an hour, I sat and watched a young otter playing and feeding amongst the weeds.

Fishing demands concentration but while waiting for the fish to respond one is always engrossed in nature.

Once a fish starts to feed, the angler becomes totally engrossed in trying to catch it and that demands profound thought, brain and brawn - all else fading into insignificance.

Going out into the countryside to fish is an ideal escape route from the cares and worries of this world.

When I was a headteacher facing cartloads of problems, going fishing helped me in no uncertain terms.

Once on the riverbank and especially if the fish were on the fin all my troubles were forgotten as every muscle of the body and every cell of the brain were concentrated in beating that particular fish. After a couple of hours of this concentrated fishing one would return to the modern world and the problems would somehow have diminished.

There are different levels of fishing and fishing ability. Some anglers are expert fishers and can almost catch fish to order while others are not so good and need to find fish of a co-operative nature to succeed.

You might think that it is the expert who derives the greatest pleasure while the tyro experiences great dissatisfaction. That is not so as the tyro can derive supreme pleasure from very modest results while the expert always has to undertake a "post mortem" of his lack of success. Happiness and satisfaction are not measured in pounds and ounces.

The last day of the 2008 fishing season was really great for me.

I travelled to Clywedog through the mists of November and thanked my lucky stars that I did not have to drive too far as I hate driving. I started fishing around ten o'clock and spent some two hours casting my flies into the deep and retrieving them slowly in mid water.

I then retired to the car for lunch bidding a brief farewell to the brace of kites wheeling and enjoying some aerial manoeuvres overhead.

Why is it that I and so many like me get pleasure in just watching that king of birds - the kite.

I devoured a couple of tongue sandwiches - my favourites - followed by a few braces of Peggy's delicious Welsh cakes. The coffee was like nectar. Why is it that lunch tastes so good outdoors?

Back I went to the bankside and spent another two hours trying to entice one of the few fish feeding on the surface but all in vain.

Another coffee break and another two scrumptious Welsh cakes!

Before leaving for home I decided on a final fling and on the second cast a good fish took my fly. I had a champion scrapper on!

After a long protracted scrap I slid it on to the sandy bank. It was all of five and a half pounds and its colourful rainbow hues were something to admire.

Incredibly, it was the exact weight as the first sewin I caught back in April on my first sewin fishing trip. What a brace - a beautiful silver sewin to kick off the 2008 season and a colourful rainbow trout to end it!

I am sure that if the Good Lord created a better hobby than fishing then he must have kept it for Himself.


VALLEYS SPLENDOUR: An angler, fishing the River Taff in the middle of Merthyr Vale in industrial South Wales yet still at one with nature
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Dec 2, 2008
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