Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Out of the habit

I read an interview with a photographer, Homer Sykes, who said that he was no longer obsessed by photography, it had become a habit. Thinking about it I reckon that's what fishing happens to the angling obsessed.The heatwave put me off moving around, let alone fishing, and by the time it was over I was out of the habit of going fishing. Getting back into it is proving difficult.

When someone mentioned seeing a decent perch caught locally it gave me a bit of an idea to try somewhere new. I'm definitely in need of some kind of piscatorial challenge. I rigged up that ultralight rod I'd build, threw my box of perch spinners (they are a safer bet than that new-fangled drop-shotting nonsense) in a shoulder bag and set off on the tedious journey to my destination.

It was a warm evening back in August. I only lasted half an hour before I got bored. To be honest the venue was small with not much scope for exploration, so when I'd caught a tiny perch I reckoned that was my challenge completed!

After that it was back to my new obsession - taking photographs of sheep at agricultural shows which I'd sort of set myself as a project for the summer. Even back in my twenties when I was a pike obsessive I always maintained that if angling were banned I'd find something else to do. In some ways going fishing has always been a diversionary activity for me. A way of avoiding real life!

Another habit I've been in, since the very first time it was held, is going to the Pike Anglers' Club annual convention. Originally as an attendee and latterly as an exhibitor. This year I almost broke that habit too. There was a sheep show on the same day...

From a financial point of view I'd not have been much worse off if I had taken the sheep road. In terms of cash in my hand, for the first time I can remember, it was disappointing. I usually end up with a good few empty pegs on my display board of hooks, swivels and other rig bits. Not this time, although rod orders taken on the day were worth the effort. Even so, I have to admit that three hour drives at daft o'clock appeal less and less to me as I get older and older even if there is money to be made.

What was apparent at the show was the lack of young faces. Thirty years ago I'd say the age range of the pikers in attendance was mid-twenties to late thirties. Now it's those ages plus thirty. The same old (operative word) faces as back then. I don't know if this is indicative of a lack of younger pike anglers, or whether they are out there but events like the convention don't appeal to them.

Talking to a few of the pikers of my generation and a little older I was relieved to find that I'm not alone in losing the drive to fish. As one said to me, "We've done it all." Maybe not all, but certainly a lot. And there isn't much left in angling that I haven't done that I've wanted to do. The few things left undone have probably been left because they never really interested me much. Getting them over with would be more of a box ticking exercise than a really enjoyable challenge. Sort of like cramming to pass an exam.

One display that did interest me was that from the Anglers National Line Recycling Scheme. Apart from the positive PR the scheme has the potential to generate, it is doing something practical. Being primarily a braid user my line lasts me years, but even braids can be recycled through the scheme. Although they do have to be kept apart from nylon lines.

Notable by their absence this year (not for the first time) was the Angling Trust. Despite their absence they were talked about. Listening to people with their fingers on the political pulse and reading the trade press I am getting the impression that peopel are losing patience with the Angling Trust.

I haven't renewed my membership for a few years now. Since the last time they had a stand at the PAC show in fact. I always used to renew my ACA subs at the show, and continued that with AT. But if they can't be bothered to support a member organisation's annual event then I'm reluctant to give them my money. Especially when I'm not convinced it is being spent wisely or in my interests. I'd be less cynical if I thought those who run the outfit were real anglers, out there week in week out, and not the holiday fishermen they appear to be. A few more coarse and sea anglers in high office would be reassuring too.

The argument for supporting AT because they are 'the only game in town' when it comes to lobbying government or other authorities is wearing thin. In this age electronic communication there are other ways to make a noise that don't involve going through the official channels. And if you can create enough noise in cyberspace you will be listened to. There are other organisations who may be willing to fight the angler's corner too. Time for AT to take a good look at itself. Keep an eye on Catch Cult magazine if you have an interest in the machinations of Angling Trust.

During the aforementioned heatwave I had a freezer malfunction. While it forced me to throw out some ancient pike baits it left the cupboard bare. I must be getting some fishing urges because I have started to restock the deadbait drawer. With a nip in the air some mornings I am starting to envisage a chunky orange float rocking in a gently rippling reflection of golden leaves. But there is this sheep show...