Not Really Fishing 'Magic Moments' competition – with the Wild Trout Trust

John Bailey

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Some of you will remember that we gave a glowing review to the Wild Trout Trust’s recent publication, Not Really Fishing. The title has gone on to strike a nerve in the fishing community, and shown a number of us want to get away from that side of the sport that is all about big fish, numbers of fish, and ever more cunning ways to catch them. Yes, it’s good to catch, but not if we ignore the wonders of the riverbank as a result.

So, yes, a lot of us are really loving these tiny tales that are so life-affirming, so life-enhancing and even so life-changing. Therefore, we are collaborating with the Trust and inviting you all to submit your own river moments of magic!

Post them on this thread, or send or email them to the Editor, and we’ll publish them on our sites as they come in, right the way up to Christmas – which somehow sounds fitting! The best five, judged by WTT and by us here at TT, will receive a free copy of the book and the honour of seeing their story published in the next edition of Not Really Fishing, due out in time for Christmas next year. This isn’t quite like winning the lottery, we all know, but you’ll have given a lot of anglers a ray of light in these dark and fraught times.

Before you get writing, remember the ideal word count is 160 words, 180 as an absolute maximum... so remember those English lessons when précis was your favourite. And do remember that these are wildlife/spiritual moments from your angling experience, rather than out and out fishing stories.

To get the ball rolling, we publish an offering from myself, F&F editor John Bailey, and a lovely aside on bats from Denise Ashton at the Trust. So, no excuses and get writing! We all need cheering up right now!

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My Ganges Epiphany

September 1989 I spent on the Ganges filming 'Casting For Gold', a Himalayan adventure for ITV. My co-presenter was Paul Boote, the celebrated traveller, and he had landed two golden mahseer to my score of none. The night was a black one. I lay in my tent, anguished at my failure, eaten up with jealousy.

I went to sit by the Black Rock, the colossal boulder in mid-river, where so many historic monster fish had been caught. The light grew, birdsong a heavenly choir. The monkeys played on the beach. A leopard coughed in the forests.

A sadhu appeared in the mists. He pointed to the Rock, and a mahseer broke the water into gold. My angling life had changed. My petty concerns fell away. I appreciated with the eyes of a new-born how lucky I was, fortunate beyond compare. From that day, I have felt only positives in my life. My joy in fishing has been complete.

John Bailey




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Source: Wikimedia Commons: Gilles San Martin: Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

Batgirl

There is a little gang of Daubenton’s bats that I am particularly fond of. They emerge from the tree roots on the bank opposite where I often fish at dusk. I first got to know them when I was casting to a rising fish. My fly seemed to jump several feet and land again. This happened a dozen times before I realised the bats were picking it up and putting it down.

Since then, I make sure I stand in the same spot at dusk and wait for them to emerge and flit around my legs for half an hour until I really cannot see and must go home. I talk to them, which must be very odd if anyone was ever listening, but fortunately I only have to share the river with the bats.

Denise Ashton, Wild Trout Trust
 
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tony considine

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The bat story by Denise Ashton stirred an interesting memory.
I was fishing for salmon down a pool on the River Don near Alford in September, a few years back.
It was a lovely sunny afternoon. I was wading quite deep as I worked my way down the pool towards a willow bush. I wondered could I get round it
There was a nice hatch of olives in progress, and as I approached the bush, I saw what I thought was a small bird, flitting backwards and forwards picking them off the water downstream of the bush and returning to the tree.
I stopped casting and shuffled my way down to just above the willow. I thought from the wing beats it wasn't a bird, and I could see by now it was a bat. One I didn't recognise.
It kept picking flies and returning to the bush to perch on a branch and eat them. It showed no interest in me at all, even though I was only about eight feet away. It probably couldn't figure what a half a human planted in mid-river was, but I was obviously no threat.
As I got out of the river, it kept downstream until I was a safe distance away, at which point it resumed lunch in its favourite bush.
When I got home, I had to look up bats. It was a Daubenton's , one which my reference book said was quite common by water.
I've spent thousands of hours fishing, but I don't think I'd seen one before. Maybe I had, but not that close!
 

Fredzefisher

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2004, Sao Benedito River in Brazil fishing for Peacock Bass. Early morning, flat calm, with jungle mist rising from the surrounding green rainforest as we outboard up-river through ever smaller waterways. Around a corner, a sandbank in the middle of the river. My guide and I stop the boat as tens of thousands of iridescent turquoise and yellow butterflies lift from the sand and flit into the morning sun as it breaks through the mist. It is absolutely silent but the air is bursting with colour. My heart almost stops beating and I can’t draw breath as we watch until they have disappeared into the forest. I feel like crying even now thinking about it. The beauty which we as fishers are privileged to experience is in front of us on any riverbank, from the smallest spiders web to the furtive slink of an otter, we just need to open our eyes.
 

iainmortimer

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The Foolishness of Youth
A friend and I were on our first night fishing trip and the Great Ouse at Kempston was the venue. As the sun dropped after a hot summer day, spirals of mist danced across the river. Soon though, the world had shrunk to the short distance revealed by our night vision.

Some time later we heard something very large in the reeds a little way down the bank. Our eyes met with a mix of bravado and fear. Our minds hit overdrive at hearing crunching noises as the beast moved ever closer. Finally, the unthinkable happened. A rat as big as a dog stuck it’s head out of the reeds close enough to bite us. We screeched. Rods and chairs flew as we scarpered up the bank to safety. The rat was equally fast and with a big splash disappeared across the river and into the darkness. We never told our friends of that fearful scare on meeting a gentle coypu for the first time.
 
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iainmortimer

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The Munster Blackwater.
The fishing hut peered from the top of the mist shrouding the river, guiding me away from the stresses of everyday life. As I sat savouring a coffee the sun continued to rise burning off the mist to reveal pink beds of willow herb which were soon alive with bees. With my coffee finished I organised my fishing tackle while marvelling at the artistry of spider webs revealed by droplets of mist. I entered the river by the hut feeling the cool water throbbing against my waders. As I began to fish I heard a splash just upstream and turned to see the rings no doubt left by a good fish. To my delight it was no fish but a pair of otters playing with two young pups almost close enough to touch. I froze so as not to spook them and watched for some minutes before realising I was there, they disappeared away under the water. I caught nothing that day, but my soul was refreshed.
 
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jimmythefish

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They say you don’t need as much sleep when you get older,I found this to be a true fact of life,as I lay staring at the ceiling one July morning I looked over at the alarm clock which said 3:15 am.The river was close by, I arrived at 3:30am,the mist was ghostly hanging above the sheep’s head as I crossed the field. I only break the rod down to two sections I pushed the two parts together and the fly rod was set up fly and all,I cast through my favorite pools,stood there doing a figure of eight through my fingers,when I heard a slight whoosh.A beautiful sparrow hawk landed no more than six feet from me with a mouse in its mouth,it starred at me for ages,never ever moving it’s head,just a fixed glare,I could see all its colors and bright eyes,when suddenly it was gone with one flap,the speed of this bird was phenomenal,never seen the like again,there really is something in it when they say the early bird gets the worm,or in his case the mouse,a truly magical moment.
 

Andrew B

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Some cool folk in that trust. Jon Beer, Jeremy Paxman and isn’t Fergal Sharky a member?
Just to dispel any myths about it being elitist on the Chalk, my old industrial Town of Colne was one of the first Urban trout projects, which has taken off.
 

fixedspool

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The humble insignificant minnow. Bottom rung in the status of freshwater fish. Nevertheless one remarkable incident I recall, which I had never seen before or since in over 70 years of fishing, took place on the river Wye where I lived and worked. One morning I walked to the very edge of the river and looked down into the clear water when I noticed a dark stripe in the water alongside the edge of the bank. Closer inspection revealed a massive minnow migration consisting, it turned out of millions of individuals swimming upstream packed tightly together into a stream of bodies measuring some 2’ wide and 2’ feet deep.

I found a bucket and plunged it in which stopped the migration in it’s tracks. It stopped those a little further downstream too I noticed. My son arrived and we went 50 yards or so downstream and the line of minnows continued unbroken. I left him there and went back to my original position and asked him to watch what happened when I again disrupted the line of fish. We found that when I broke the chain and stopped the minnows running those downstream some fifty yards away immediately did the same at exactly the same moment. How did they communicate for communicate in some way they certainly did as we repeated the experiment several times?. Those little minnows knew there was a problem up ahead. But how? I guess we might never know.
 

Andrew B

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The humble insignificant minnow. Bottom rung in the status of freshwater fish. Nevertheless one remarkable incident I recall, which I had never seen before or since in over 70 years of fishing, took place on the river Wye where I lived and worked. One morning I walked to the very edge of the river and looked down into the clear water when I noticed a dark stripe in the water alongside the edge of the bank. Closer inspection revealed a massive minnow migration consisting, it turned out of millions of individuals swimming upstream packed tightly together into a stream of bodies measuring some 2’ wide and 2’ feet deep.

I found a bucket and plunged it in which stopped the migration in it’s tracks. It stopped those a little further downstream too I noticed. My son arrived and we went 50 yards or so downstream and the line of minnows continued unbroken. I left him there and went back to my original position and asked him to watch what happened when I again disrupted the line of fish. We found that when I broke the chain and stopped the minnows running those downstream some fifty yards away immediately did the same at exactly the same moment. How did they communicate for communicate in some way they certainly did as we repeated the experiment several times?. Those little minnows knew there was a problem up ahead. But how? I guess we might never know.
Lol really we don’t know a thing do we?
 

Andrew B

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The humble insignificant minnow. Bottom rung in the status of freshwater fish. Nevertheless one remarkable incident I recall, which I had never seen before or since in over 70 years of fishing, took place on the river Wye where I lived and worked. One morning I walked to the very edge of the river and looked down into the clear water when I noticed a dark stripe in the water alongside the edge of the bank. Closer inspection revealed a massive minnow migration consisting, it turned out of millions of individuals swimming upstream packed tightly together into a stream of bodies measuring some 2’ wide and 2’ feet deep.

I found a bucket and plunged it in which stopped the migration in it’s tracks. It stopped those a little further downstream too I noticed. My son arrived and we went 50 yards or so downstream and the line of minnows continued unbroken. I left him there and went back to my original position and asked him to watch what happened when I again disrupted the line of fish. We found that when I broke the chain and stopped the minnows running those downstream some fifty yards away immediately did the same at exactly the same moment. How did they communicate for communicate in some way they certainly did as we repeated the experiment several times?. Those little minnows knew there was a problem up ahead. But how? I guess we might never know.
Just remind me on my humble stream after the fly life had gone, the trout would turn onto the minnow and some of the fish I caught in September back then were monsters. I’m calling a wild trout of three pound a monster in such a small river. This behaviour stopped a while ago
 

Elibank

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View attachment 68203

Some of you will remember that we gave a glowing review to the Wild Trout Trust’s recent publication, Not Really Fishing. The title has gone on to strike a nerve in the fishing community, and shown a number of us want to get away from that side of the sport that is all about big fish, numbers of fish, and ever more cunning ways to catch them. Yes, it’s good to catch, but not if we ignore the wonders of the riverbank as a result.

So, yes, a lot of us are really loving these tiny tales that are so life-affirming, so life-enhancing and even so life-changing. Therefore, we are collaborating with the Trust and inviting you all to submit your own river moments of magic!

We’ll publish them on our sites as they come in, right the way up to Christmas – which somehow sounds fitting! The best five, judged by WTT and by us here at TT, will receive a free copy of the book and the honour of seeing their story published in the next edition of Not Really Fishing. This isn’t quite like winning the lottery, we all know, but you’ll have given a lot of anglers a ray of light in these dark and fraught times.

Before you get writing, remember the ideal word count is 160 words, 180 as an absolute maximum... so remember those English lessons when précis was your favourite. And do remember that these are wildlife/spiritual moments from your angling experience, rather than out and out fishing stories.

To get the ball rolling, we publish an offering from myself, F&F editor John Bailey, and a lovely aside on bats from Denise Ashton at the Trust. So, no excuses and get writing! We all need cheering up right now!

View attachment 68204

View attachment 68205

View attachment 68206

My Ganges Epiphany

September 1989 I spent on the Ganges filming 'Casting For Gold', a Himalayan adventure for ITV. My co-presenter was Paul Boote, the celebrated traveller, and he had landed two golden mahseer to my score of none. The night was a black one. I lay in my tent, anguished at my failure, eaten up with jealousy.

I went to sit by the Black Rock, the colossal boulder in mid-river, where so many historic monster fish had been caught. The light grew, birdsong a heavenly choir. The monkeys played on the beach. A leopard coughed in the forests.

A sadhu appeared in the mists. He pointed to the Rock, and a mahseer broke the water into gold. My angling life had changed. My petty concerns fell away. I appreciated with the eyes of a new-born how lucky I was, fortunate beyond compare. From that day, I have felt only positives in my life. My joy in fishing has been complete.

John Bailey




View attachment 68207
Source: Wikimedia Commons: Gilles San Martin: Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

Batgirl

There is a little gang of Daubenton’s bats that I am particularly fond of. They emerge from the tree roots on the bank opposite where I often fish at dusk. I first got to know them when I was casting to a rising fish. My fly seemed to jump several feet and land again. This happened a dozen times before I realised the bats were picking it up and putting it down.

Since then, I make sure I stand in the same spot at dusk and wait for them to emerge and flit around my legs for half an hour until I really cannot see and must go home. I talk to them, which must be very odd if anyone was ever listening, but fortunately I only have to share the river with the bats.

Denise Ashton, Wild Trout Trust
Just been reading this in “Classic Angling”…
 

Andrew B

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They say you don’t need as much sleep when you get older,I found this to be a true fact of life,as I lay staring at the ceiling one July morning I looked over at the alarm clock which said 3:15 am.The river was close by, I arrived at 3:30am,the mist was ghostly hanging above the sheep’s head as I crossed the field. I only break the rod down to two sections I pushed the two parts together and the fly rod was set up fly and all,I cast through my favorite pools,stood there doing a figure of eight through my fingers,when I heard a slight whoosh.A beautiful sparrow hawk landed no more than six feet from me with a mouse in its mouth,it starred at me for ages,never ever moving it’s head,just a fixed glare,I could see all its colors and bright eyes,when suddenly it was gone with one flap,the speed of this bird was phenomenal,never seen the like again,there really is something in it when they say the early bird gets the worm,or in his case the mouse,a truly magical moment.
I’ve witnessed it up close on a blackbird and I could swear it was looking at me as an equal😂
It’s the only thing I share with that damned Chris Packham in that Sparrow hawks are my favourite bird of all
 

Andrew B

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I’ve read John Bailey as long as I can remember since starting fishing. Whilst I buzz off reading about salmon in Russia and bonefish on the flats, his Mental ferox hunting was my favourite. I know one of the guys in my town who started the Ferox club thing and they’re all prepared to suffer on those lochs.
I’m in no clubs but trout do blow my mind for the sheer diversity
 
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