News

Every Day in May Challenge.

News

Ever noticed that the news has changed so much? My parents used to go to the cinema on a weekly basis and watch stuttering and grainy black and white film reels to see what was happening in the Second World War. The nearest thing to fast track reporting was via a crackling valve radio, each component the size of the modern cellular phone and you still had to plan ahead to allow the tuner to warm up. Urgent messages were relayed in a series of dots and dashes with some poor unfortunate more than likely getting the very first version of “Blackberry Thumb” from tapping out the telegrams. News back then was like watching the stars, by the time you saw the light the whole darn solar system could have disappeared already.

Now we have embedded news crews and up to the moment action. By the time I read the paper most of the stories are already old hat, I have read them commented on them and moved on before the editor of the local rag has put the ink on the paper. The stuff is posted, blogged, SMS’ed,  twittered and tweeted before whoever is involved has had time to get their breath back. The ultimate in instant gratification and one suspects the death knell of traditional printed media.

However on the fishing front little has changed in all that time, the news is the same and generally the headlines read “you should have been here yesterday”.

My good friend Greg Clarke used to say that when it comes to fishing you have to make the news, and I think that even now he is more than likely right on the money.

Our local fishing club years back would insist on members filling in catch returns, ostensibly to monitor the stocks of fish although little real research was ever done. The returns, rough approximations of post cards would be clipped up on the club room notice board with each tagged to identify the river and or beat fished. Rather than offer any scientific stocking policy however the cards were mostly used for an entirely alternative purpose.

When the season commenced, those of us driven mad by being stuck indoors all winter would venture out, as a general rule far too early and after far too much rain. We would battle frigid temperatures, high water and slippery paths. Fish various rivers and different beats in the hope of finding some quality angling. We would return home, frequently with little to show for our efforts beyond a nasty dose of the flu or at least mild hypothermia and damp clothes. We would then dutifully fill in the catch return cards and return them to the secretary for posting on the board.

The club contained however a sub-population of slightly less avid anglers. Piscatorial parasites who would loiter in the bar and await the posting of those little cards so they could check out the fishing protected from the elements, warm, comfy and with whisky in hand. Once there were reports of fish or clear water they would be off, booking up the rivers and keeping the pioneers away until the rivers dropped the fishing got tough in the low water and the cycle would be repeated. This time waiting for reports of fresh rain and good fishing.

I have to confess that over time many of us more adventurous souls would lie on those cards, it is dreadful admission to be sure, I don’t as a rule lie about anything but there are limits. Once we found good conditions we might tell a few of our mates. Share with those who shared with us but that was it, it’s not as though we were the fishing reporters for Reuters and we took exception to being used.

Years later we started to experiment with saltwater fishing, an area of the art even more subject to the vagaries of tides, weather and the generally uncooperative nature of the fish. One tide would bring in shoals of Elf or Leerfish and the guys standing on the beach or the rocky outcrops, battling the surf and struggling in the wind would have a red letter day. The next the numbers of anglers would increase as word got out but as a rule the numbers of fish would already have fallen. One of the great advantages of trout fishing is at least you know the fish are there. In the salt you are never sure. If you wanted to be there on the right tide you simply had to go on as many tides as you could and roll the dice.

Even now with search engines, websites, blogs and cell-phones chances are unless you get out there and make your own news you will miss it. I suppose I kind of like it like that, as the SAS say “he who dare’s wins”, at least some of the time.

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