The new salmon season starts here on the Dee on February 1st, and Other Half has been chewing the carpet to get out there and get his line wet. He's been keeping an almost obsessive eye on the water levels, which are high, fast and clear at the moment, and that set me thinking about a subject that should be at the forefront of everyone's minds. I know you're all keen to get out there and try out the new shiny, sexy rod for which you took out a second mortgage, or the stonking new reel, engineered to Mercedes quality which thrust you into penury. And you can't fool me that you haven't managed to accrue a rather splendid plethora of flies, lines, and the latest multi layer bulletproof waders over the close season. But have you given even a passing thought to a some basic equipment which, in the excitement of the moment, often gets overlooked. Have you got a good strong wading staff, or checked your flotation devices, or got adequate eye protection, a hat even?
We've all done it, tried to ignore that creeping, cold tickling around our backsides, that gradually spreading icy chilliness that shifts subtly from irritating annoyance into downright discomfort, and for the boys, possibly a degree of shrinkage. Don't worry, you're not incontinent, not yet, the truth is far more straightforward - your waders have sprung a leak. Those 5 stylish layers of Gore-Tex, promised by the ads to be so technologically advanced as to be virtually bullet proof, have been beaten by the very element from which they are meant to protect you, and it is astounding how quickly a few ingressing molecules of H2O can put paid to your fishing enjoyment. Misery, of course, loves company, and it reaches out far beyond a damp crotch to seek companionship in the contents of your wallet. However, in these days of financial constraint and metaphorical, if not literal, belt tightening, many of us can ill afford to take out a second mortgage for a pair of what non-anglers would derisively label 'rubber pants' so it would be a wise move to undertake a certain amount of detective work before taking the plunge.
If you have a love of the countryside, or are one of the huntin' shootin' and fishin' fraternity, then the CLA Game Fair is the place for you. This year it was held at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, a smashing country pad and well worth a visit in its own right.
The Fair is probably the most prestigious showcase in the country, if not the whole of Europe, for all things country living/sport related. It has more stalls, demonstrations, lectures, displays, discussions and activities related to country living and country sports than you can shake a riding crop at. It they don't sell it, talk about it, show it or discuss it, you can probably get along pretty well without it. I really enjoy going, not least because I get to try out the latest and often the most expensive fishing rods on the market and bag some tuition for free, but also because I get to wrap my sticky mitts around a few choice shotguns and create a bit of smoke and noise in the testing area. Think of it as catharsis with safety issues (a woman on the edge of reason, loaded gun - need I illuminate further?)
As the wonderful fellows in the syndicate will attest, the riverbank venue, even one chosen for its peace and solitude, can be surprisingly busy and noisy.
It's one o'clock and we're taking a break from fishing. The water is low and sluggish and has warmed and there's not much doing, so now is as good a time as any to lie back, catch a few rays of sunshine and relax a little.
Fish care; does it matter?
One of the most important things in angling is fish welfare; fact. The protection, conservation and continuation of our target species is paramount to our fishing, without conserving and husbanding of stocks, our sport will decline and we will all suffer the consequences......but do we take it seriously enough?