No angler should be making resolutions like not leaving litter, not leaving gates open, not disturbing livestock, not trampling or driving through mowing grass, and not lighting fires – but a minority should be!
I first made my resolutions to help me catch more and bigger fish back in the early 1960s. I have kept them every New Year since! This started when the late Pat Russell and I were invited up to stay with the late Richard Walker in his fishing hut on the banks of his Upper Ouse fishery.
All morning I had fished downstream of the hut where I’d bumped into Fred J Taylor. He hadn’t caught anything either and I left him trying to rescue his float from a big willow on the opposite bank!
I returned to the hut for a coffee and a bite to eat to find Pat with Peter Thomas. Suddenly, the door burst open and there stood the legendary Richard Walker who, grinning from ear to ear, welcomed us with: “I don’t know why you two bothered to come all this way from Devon, it takes experts to catch fish here!”
Eventually I said: “I’m going back to the river to fish.” Dick said to me “Ever caught a big chub?” I replied “No there aren’t any in Devon, but I caught one from the River Wye when I was 11.” “Come with me,” he replied.
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I began to get all my gear together when Dick said: “No, all you need is your rod, reel, landing net and polaroids. I’ve got the bait, big slugs and lobworms.”
“Set up your tackle here by the hut, if you fix up your rod and thread the line through the rings where you intend to fish, you will scare all the fish away no matter where you are fishing!”
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“It would be best to use a size 2 or 4 hook, but I think your rod (a Wallis Wizard) is too weak to stick a large hook into a chub’s mouth. You had better use a strong size 6.”
“At least your green shirt and brown jacket will blend in with the background if we keep low and move slowly. One of the best fish scarers is a white shirt or hat!” “Fish are wild creatures and we must treat them accordingly. So we must move slowly and quietly, crawling on our bellies if necessary. Imagine every fish has a gun, and if it sees you it will shoot you!”
After several more trips fishing with Dick I made these five resolutions:1, Find where fish of the species and sizes you wish to catch live, by direct observation or by other means; 2, Once you have found them don’t scare them; 3, Choose the right time to fish – early morning, all day, late evening or all night; 4, Use the correct tackle, not too heavy or light; 5, Find a bait they will eat.