SATURDAYS see the good people at The Angling Trust, the single organisation to represent all game, coarse and sea anglers and angling in this country, take over our blog. 

Angling Trust chief executive, Mark Lloyd brings you this week’s brief blog as he is currently on holiday.

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IT DOESN’T  matter what type of fishing you’re doing, getting ready is almost as much fun as actually fishing. 

My brother taught me to fish and he used to tell me to visualise everything I would be doing when I got to the water, and all the kit I would need to do it, in the hope that I might actually remember all my tackle for once.  Of course when we got there I’d have forgotten my scissors, net, or worse, my reel.

Getting ready to fish can be almost as exciting as actually fishing!

I still do this excercise even now, when packing up to go fishing has become more of a routine process and I rarely have those horrible moments when you realise that you’ve gone all that way only to find that all your other gear is completely useless because of one crucial missing item.

But behind all these practical considerations, as you thread line through rod rings, tie knots and search for that thing that you put somewhere in your fishing bag lies a steady throb of excitement, like a film soundtrack, as your mind pictures the water and the great fish that lurk beneath the surface, the feeling of that first contact when the fish takes and the thrilling relief of seeing it, played out, slipping into the net.  All this unites us anglers and it is why we expend so much time, money and heartache on this fantastic pastime.

Today I’m preparing for a weekend of sleeplessness in the west country chasing sea trout at night.  It’s a branch of our sport that few people try.  Many are afraid of the dark and the strange noises from foxes, owls and even sheep that can sound like savage monsters when you hear them in the dark.  Others are worried about casting into the unknown, and tying knots without being able to see.

Fishing at night creates a whole new layer of challenges and excitements, and this is one of the things I love about it.  It’s always with an immense sense of adventure that I rig up my rods, check all my knots, load my pockets with fly boxes and head off into the gloaming to wait for dark, when, and only when, fishing can begin.

I like to see several bats overhead, and the colour go out of the grass, before I cast a line.  I start in the fast shallow run at the neck of a pool, with small flies before changing to larger flies and sometimes going a bit deeper to fish the pool itself.

The first fish to jump sends an electric shock of excitement right through you.  On still nights, you can actually hear the fish leave the water with a little slurp, and sometimes the flapping of the tail as it leaps into the night air, shortly followed by a resounding crash as if someone has thrown a breeze block into the river.

In these little west country streams, the fish are improbably big, with some getting into double figures.  When  these jump, a little bit of doubt enters your mind about whether or not you really want something so big connected to your 7 weight fly rod in the middle of the night.

The take from a sea trout is unmistakeable.  There is something violently angry about it and when you can’t use your eyes, all your other senses are much more powerful.  It is some time before you really feel in control of these powerful fish, as they shoot around the pool like torpedoes, leaping and crashing on the surface, turning it to a silver foam that gleams in the gloom.

Sea trout give you a night to remember. Their future is worth fighting for.

Often, you catch nothing.  Humidity, temperature, wind, water levels, fly choice, depth and plain luck all have to be right to make these fish that don’t actually eat in freshwater take your fly, for reasons we don’t really understand.  But the memory of what it felt like last time, and the dream of how it might be the next time, keep you casting repeatedly until long past dawn.

These fish are now only found in a few rivers in this country, and numbers are not what they used to be.  Abstraction, pollution, weirs, hydropower turbines and commercial netting have all impacted on stocks.  There’s a lot of great work going on to put this right being done by the river trusts and the Environment Agency.  The Angling Trust is also fighting on all these fronts to try and restore all our rivers to better health.  We do this because we all love all types of fishing, and the unique excitement that it offers.  If you care about the future of fish stocks and the freedom to go fishing, please join us to support our work.

Sea trout fishing is available through some of the river trust passport schemes and you can find more information here:

There are also a lot of clubs and associations that offer day tickets and friendly advice about where to go.  Once you’ve felt that take, you will never look back.



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