March 2009

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I actually went fishing last week…post upcoming..

In the meantime..

Here’s another little fishy gem from the BBC, sadly only available on iPlayer to folks in the UK. Charles Rangly-Wilson of `Accidental Angler’ fame goes on a fish-based tour of Japan. Find the program here.

fish

I enjoyed the program. It contains quite a few moments for the sqeamish, along with some genuinly funny sequences (the flying panda being one of them..).

Charles seems to be well on his way to becomming the (un)official good face of angling on TV (the bad face honour falling to Extreme Fishing’s interestingly-double-sir-named Robson Green). As one of the instigaters of the fantastic Wild Trout Trust that can’t be a bad thing. Become a member today!

Here’s the blurb…

Charles Rangeley Wilson, author, journalist and BBC 2’s Accidental Angler, travels to Japan to explore the Japanese people’s passionate relationship to fish.

Of all the island nations on Earth, there is, perhaps, none quite so obsessed by fish as Japan. Whether for food or entertainment, fish are at the very core of Japanese identity. From their reverential love of jewel-like koi to the seemingly barbaric world of scientific whaling via the balletic submarine ballet of the drive hunt, there are few corners of Japanese culture that have not been shaped by reference to fish.

Trying to comprehend this ‘alien’ culture, Charles embarks on a six-week odyssey through Japan, determined to use his love of fish and fishing as the common point of interest between himself and those he meets along the way. Since he loves fish possibly even more than the Japanese, they must have plenty in common…

Having gone a bit soft for the first two editions of WOTM, it’s time to talk about a real bollock-busting dram. The standard Lagavulin is a 16 year old malt, a real beauty of a whisky packed with peaty intensity. Just before Christmas I got hold of the Distiller’s Edition. This is a bit like a regular 16 Y/O, except that it’s been double matured, which means that at least part of its maturation has been inside Spanish sherry casks.

lag

I reckon this version is absolutely superb. It has the firey yet smooth explosion of flavour seen with the regular 16 Y/O, with a little hint of sweetness from the sherry cask maturation. Towards the end you get the most fantastic warm, slightly salty afterglow. There’s a good bucket-full of peat throughtout. It’s certainly a full-blooded Islay, but with a satisfying complexity that goes beyond the sensory napalming of the Laphroaigs.

lag-2What a wonderful colour… deep amber and delicious. This is truly a whisky to be a savoured slowly. I plan on stretching mine out for as long as possible, sharing it with as few lucky people as I can get away with… It’s a whisky to inspire selfishness.

With the trout season just around the corner, things are looking decidedly up. On some rivers and lochs people are already out and fishing.

Personally, I tend to view the trout season as starting for real on the 1st of April. I’m busy getting flies tied, sorting out all the bits and bobs and making plans for the first day. It’s got to be the most exciting time of the year, with everything ahead and to be discovered again.

So, as a welcome to the new season, how about a bit of quality Norman MacCaig poetry to stir the blood?

Loch Sionascaig

Hard to remember how the water went
Shaking the light,
Until it shook like peas in a riddling plate.

Or how the islands snored into the wind,
Or seemed to, round
Stiff, plunging headlands that they never cleared.

Or how a trout hung high its drizzling bow
For a count of three –
Heraldic figure on a shield of spray.

Yet clear the footprint in the puddled sand
That slowly filled
And rounded out and smoothed and disappeared

From BBC online comes the scarcely believable news that fishing may soon become an option as part of the school curriculum in Scotland. Sounds incredible, slightly bizarre, but surely to be warmly welcomed. Quoted from the article:

The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) is understood to be close to approving the study of topics such as game angling and river management. Pupils would learn about things like fish biology and water chemistry. The idea came from Angling for Youth Development (AFYD) – a group set up to encourage young people to take up the sport and keep them out of trouble.

trout

Image copyright BBC

The qualifications could also include topics such as the history of angling, casting techniques, water safety and angling and wildlife law. AFYD believes that good anglers need to have a knowledge of science, geology, geography and natural and social history.

Well I never, what do you say to that!? The fact that people with power over these things are choosing to recognise and highlight the genuinly positive aspects of angling is fantastic. Casting fishing as something connected to nature, with benefits for all, as opposed to something which only plunders is a great step forward.

Seriously though, can you image having distance casting lessons in third perid instead of cross-country running? Amazing thought. And what about fly tying. Some of those `art’ flies go way beyond what I ever did in art class. Definitely potential there..

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