Nether Wallop Mill Friday September 7th 2018
You probably don't get to read Tackle & Guns much - it is the trade magazine for the shooting and fishing trade. Like all publications of this nature it is generally perceived as a bit of nerd-fest, the aggregation of press releases and thinly disguised advertorial which could only possibly, ever be of interest to a tiny sliver of the population.
I guess I am part of that tiny sliver and have to admit to rather looking forward to each monthly edition - it usually features some bit of regional news that would have otherwise passed unnoticed and the guest columnists are usually given free rein to vent. This August edition, usually the slow news month, was particularly good in both respects.
The regional news came in the form of a report and accompanying editorial about a shop in Sheffield that had been targeted by, and I quote, an 'anarcho-vegan collective' who smashed the shop window and stole a few items. It might have gone unremarked as a bit of mindless vandalism but for a Facebook post by #unoffensiveanimal who boasted a HIT REPORT. I won't reproduce the full social media content but here is a flavour:
"Any business profiting from the speciesist system is a target ....... We left some beautiful marks on the windows with a hammer ..... We are no longer willing to use our words ..... We will throw swear words at them [shop owners] in the form of rocks .... Anglers, wankers!"
The editorial goes on to ask how we should react to this apparently isolated incident.
It is a strange thing but fish don't seem to excite much emotion outside the angling community. I don't ever recall seeing a juggernaut on the motorway with a huge picture of a dead lamb urging us to eat more meat. But a dead salmon? No problem. Likewise when it comes to the anti-hunting/pro-animal rights lobby one fox or badger is worth any number of fish.
Imagine a news item where a cloud of poison wiped out a thousand wild rabbits. Uproar would ensue. MPs would mount soapboxes. Topical phone-ins would be besieged. The company or organisation involved would be pilloried on social media. The rolling of heads would be demanded. But when a river is polluted, an almost weekly occurrence by the way ....... well. A few lines in the local paper and maybe a prosecution by the Environment Agency that will come to court so long after the event as to be meaningless both in terms of punishment and deterrent.
Does this mean we have nothing to fear from the speciesist activists? I hate to be complacent by simply dismissing them as irrelevant. Too extreme to be taken seriously. But on the other hand it seems to me hard to make any moral argument for catching fish aside from catch-and-kill. If you went head-to-head on a show like Newsnight how would you defend our position? Against someone who sincerely believes that no fish should ever be harmed, hurt or killed for whatever reason this is not as easy as you might suppose.
In the end I think we have to fall back on a variation of the greater good defence: anglers have proved themselves to be the best, and often at times the only, custodians of our rivers, creating a haven for the wildlife that thrives in the valleys through which they flow. From this not every fish will benefit all of the time, but in aggregate the British countryside is for all of us, creatures and people, a better place for the very existence of angling.
John Keats' famous poemTo Autumn, when he speaks of the mellow fruitfulness, has a special connection to the chalkstreams for he wrote it having just walked the banks on the River Itchen whilst staying in Winchester in 1819. A few days later he wrote to his friend John Hamilton Reynolds, "How beautiful the season is now - How fine the air. A temperate sharpness about it."
September is truly a month to savour, so don't miss out. But looking briefly backwards well done to Andrew Halestrap who won the feedback draw after a day at Bullington Manor in August. The snood is on its way and not long until the end of season draw for the Simms pliers for everyone else.
VIDEO OF THE WEEK
The BBC news headline asks why a plane is dropping trout into a lake from above.
The answer is that a mountain lake is being re-stocked with trout from the air by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources who say this mode of transport is less stressful for the fish compared to previous methods (walked in on pack horses) and that 95% of them survive the journey.
Reacting to this clip when I posted it on Facebook someone reminded me a few lines from that great American angling writer, John Gierach.
Talking to a pilot who was flying the stocking plane John asked,
"Do you have a high survival rate?"
"Yeh," came the reply, "so long as we hit the water."
Watch the clip of the stocking in action.
PHOTO OF THE WEEK
Could you cast a salmon line 127 feet?
If you could you'd be pretty adept and would have scooped third place in the World Fly Casting Championships. Now imagine doing that at the age of 12. Read the story from The New York Times of Maxine McCormick who has back-to-back world titles.
More chances to prove, or improve, your intellect. Answers, as ever, at the bottom of the page.
1) According to meteorologists when is the start and finish of autumn?
2) In Greek mythology who was abducted by Hades, her confinement in the Underworld causing the start of autumn?
3) When is the autumnal equinox?
Enjoy the weekend.
Simon Cooper firstname.lastname@example.org
Founder & Managing Director
1) September 1 - November 30
3) Sunday, 23 September when night and day are of almost equal length