One Fish, Two Fish, Three Fish

One fish , two fish, three fish , four.

The “How Small a Trout” Every Day in May Challenge.   May 19th “More Fish”

I wonder what does “Fish” mean to you? Maybe a trout on the line, a marlin diving deep in a blue ocean or hake lying deep-fried on a plate next to a pile of delicious if fattening fries. Perhaps it conjures up pictures of a birth sign, or with a slight variation of spelling the nefarious machinations of some Nigerian internet scammer trying to locate your bank details. Everyone has a different view; the word produces varied images to each of us. But if you have ever been a competitive angler the word “fish”, just that, in the singular spells relief with a capital “F”.

You see under FIPS mouche regulations, (as applied to the World Championships and other affiliated competition), if you blank (catch nothing for a session), you get the worst score imaginable. More to the point if one guy catches a fish and the rest of you don’t, he leaps so far into the lead as to have a near unassailable position.

Catching fish is important, but catching a fish, well that is a matter of life and death, an angling imperative which defines what we do. Mathematically one fish, two fish, three fish is a linear progression of a sequence of finite numbers equally separated by a defined numeric variance. In competitive fishing nothing could be further from the truth and the difference between no fish and one fish is a world away from the difference between one fish and two fish.

There you are wandering aimlessly up the stream, contemplating your casting, the fly, the nice weather or whatever, trying to maintain some focus and convincing yourself that you are having a great day. But spot a trout, see a rise, a twinkle of the sun on a sipping eddie and your mind screams “FISH”. Adrenaline flows, you go into a slight crouch, take care not to stumble and knock over the boulders. Your heart races and the world turns, this is the moment, this is the point of it all, your view changes to the monocular vision of total absorption.

I suppose actually it isn’t an entirely competitive thing, truth be told if we catch no fish we are rarely happy with the day, if we catch a fish, a single, solitary fish, just one then things are looking a whole lot brighter.

I have lots of friends and clients who claim that they go fishing to get away; they love the scenery, the outing, the cool water and blue skies, the mountains and the trees, the outdoors. Well yes all well and good but you know what? Those same waters, scenic vistas, trees, sky and the mountains all look a whole helluva lot prettier to me once the net is wet. There is no getting over it, one goes fishing to catch fish, at least one fish, that’s the point and if you didn’t expect to catch a fish, or at the very lease hope to catch a fish you wouldn’t be fishing, you would simply be hiking in damp clothes, and there are I am sure better ways to spend the day.

Equally once you have bagged the first fish of the day the pressure is off, you relax, gain confidence (and was there anything ever as important as confidence when fishing). It is actually pretty rare just to catch one fish, once you have broken your duck the Gods seem to move in your favour. Maybe it is just the way things go but I think that first fish is the deal breaker. Get that one done and the rest of the day is generally pretty plain sailing.

So “Fish” means a lot more than most people might have you believe, it is my raison d’etre , it is what wakes me in the mornings and gives me sweet dreams at night, it is what has me out in all weathers, fine and foul, driving for hours or slaving at the fly tying vice. That one, single, solitary fish and then of course hopefully another one.

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