Fishing

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As you may have heard I was a guest on the Radio 4 Saturday Live show hosted by the Rev. Richard Coles. Frankly, as my first time live on national radio, I was fully expecting to be scared out of my wits but it is a huge tribute to the production team at Broadcasting House that I felt nothing of the sort.

Simon Cooper of Fishing Breaks with presenters Laura and Richard Guests Lady Carnarvon Daniel O'Donnel me and Samantha Renke

Presenters: Laura & Richard. Guests: Lady Carnarvon, Daniel O’Donnell, me & Samantha Renke.

 

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On my various perambulations in the writing The Otters’ Tale I came across some unexpected reactions. For the most part people were incredibly supportive, helpful and encouraging. After all the otter is regularly polled as one of Britain’s favourite animals. It even has a world-encompassing cheerleader in J K Rowling.  She featured our native otter in the Harry Potter series, plus I think I read somewhere that she said that if she has to come back in another life it would be as an otter.  But not everyone is quite as enthusiastic about these lithe and secretive creatures.

Simon Cooper of Fishing Breaks with Topaz the Otter

Simon Cooper with Topaz

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Simon Cooper of Fishing Breaks Newsletter Heading

 

Someone asked me an interesting question last week: what would you do if given precisely 5 years to live, assuming your death was to be neither traumatic or fearful (a big ask I know). My immediate answer was to do more fishing. Then I considered the question again – family, travel, money – well, they all crowded in but in the end I circled back to fishing. As former Liverpool football manager Bill Shankley replied when asked whether football was life and death, “No, it’s more important than that.”

Well, I’m not intending to die just yet (make that my epitaph) but I’m beginning to think Bill may have had a point. Let’s face it you’ll never be able to re-live the year again. Once the days are gone, they are gone. The cadence of the summer months can’t be jammed into single day or week. So, having decided on the principle of more fishing I think I better set a few parameters.

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After my last Twitter storm I hesitate to write anything about pike, but Bill Heavey’s article Spear and Trembling: The Ancient Art of Stabbing Pike Through the Ice in the latest edition of US outdoors magazine Field & Stream makes for fascinating reading. The piece is far too long to reproduce here but you may read it on-line but I’ll give you the brief bones of it.

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Dear Santa,

I know I have denied your existence in the past but please forgive my letter; I require help.

My family claim I am difficult to buy for; apparently they believe I have everything I need or at best I am failing to express preferences on which we can all agree. It is a sorry state of affairs but I am hoping to enlist your expertise as some sort of celestial interlocutor.

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River-Nether-WallopThe headlines in the past few days for hedgehogs have been pretty stark – their numbers have apparently halved in the past 15 years. As is often the case the facts behind these sorts of headlines, generated by a pressure group, aren’t always as rigorous as maybe they should be. You will find the press coverage caveated by plenty of phrases along the lines of ‘reliable estimates of hedgehog numbers are hard to come by …… ‘.

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River-Nether-WallopI have a pet swan; his name is Arthur the Arthritic on account of a gammy leg. He is of indeterminate age, though clearly getting on a bit and lives on the lake here at Nether Wallop Mill. I must admit I never set out to have a swan for a pet – they are not the friendliest of creatures and are, in truth, a bit messy. That said we have reached a sort of amiable compromise over the past four or five years.

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This month Orvis celebrates 30 years on the English high street and it is an odd thought but I write this from the very same room from which the Orvis operation was run in 1985, the American firm having acquired Nether Wallop Mill and Dermot Wilson’s famous mail order company four years earlier.

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The death was swift. A brief press release from the offices of the CLA (Countryside Landowners Association) consigned the annual Game Fair to history. The biggest event in the rural calendar, at least measured by the number of people that attended, was to be cancelled. No reprieve was offered. Even though dates for the 2016 event at Ragley Hall had been in the diary for two years, it was all over forever. The show, despite being visited by around a 150,000 people, was a loss maker for the CLA and the membership could no longer support the losses.

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I’m sitting here at 38,000 feet asking myself why do I fish? Not in any heart searching, godaam I’m an idiot sort of way but in a rather contented I’m glad I do it sort of way. Sky high and with the North American coast ahead and the southernmost tip of Greenland just past, I’m now about 5 hours into a 15 hour trip that ends in Victor, Idaho.

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