Fishing is a big-time passion (and a big-time business) in America, but what about Great Britain? Sure, there are a few carp anglers, and some tweedy, landed aristocratic dudes who like to catch Atlantic salmon in the rivers and trout in England’s famed (and very, very private) chalk streams, but that’s about it, right? As it turns out, the blokes across the pond are as mad for fishing as we are.
From this story in the (UK) Express:
In Britain there are an estimated four million anglers – that is those who catch fish by means of an “angle” or fish hook – who like nothing better than to sit huddled on a river bank or beside a lake and wait for that all important bite and that ever bigger fish. The money spent on the pastime is thought to put around £3billion into the economy and we are not short of celebrity anglers either. Think of ex-cricketer Ian Botham, rock stars Eric Clapton and Roger Daltrey and such celebrities as Vinnie Jones, Jeremy Paxman and Joanna Lumley. What then is the great lure of the pastime which accords fish like Two Tone (yet another legendary British carp that recently died) legendary status? “It’s everything about it,” says Alan Barnes, 47, an angling journalist from Lancashire who says he cannot go for more than seven days without heading to the riverbank. “It’s the peace, the tranquillity and the solitude. …You can have a million problems in the world and then you go fishing and everything melts away and it’s just you and your environment. I’m just your average guy who’ll buy a couple of pints of maggots at the tackle shop and go and fish for five hours. Last night I didn’t get on to the river bank until five in the afternoon and I packed up at eight, and I’d caught about 80 fish. There’s something indescribable about man catching a fish. It’s a cliche but once you’ve caught one, you are usually hooked for life.”
There are, however, rules governing the pastime. In UK freshwaters, the rights to fish in a particular river, lake, pond or canal are owned privately. To fish legally all anglers must hold a valid rod licence and hold permission to fish, usually by joining an angling club or paying for a day or season’s fishing. Fishing in the sea, meanwhile, is a public right and is free.
It’s a nice rumination on the joys of fishing and highlights how universal a language fishing truly is, whether it’s fishing for carp, bass, trout, whatever. But if I ever ran into Vinnie Jones on a trout stream I’d probably turn and run like a wee girl…