The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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Heart of the Blue Ridge

All Welcome To Fishing

By Roderick Wilkinson © 1986

Issue: April, 1986

Editor Note: In the spirit of proving that a fisherman (or woman) is the same the world over, we present this story from Roderick Wilkinson of Glasgow, Scotland, for your reading enjoyment. If the mid-winter doldrums have got a hold of you, perhaps this will get you ready for the upcoming fishing season in spring. Trout fishing season opens in April.
Susan Thigpen, Editor

I was hearing the other day that football players are finished at such a young age now that you're never going to see a grey hair on the field for the rest of your life. And it's the same with boxers - even the great Mohammed Ali couldn't beat that biological trap. It makes you wonder if there's any sport left for people over forty. Frankly, I'm getting a bit fed up with these young people winning everything in sight, and calling the rest of us "Dad."

Well, take comfort. There is one sport left for us old codgers over 25. No quarter-million pounds transfer fees... none of this "too old at 40" lark... there's not even the sexual discrimination you'll see on the rugby field or the boxing ring or the hockey filed. Open to all - any age from 8 to 80.

A man called Herbert Hoover once said, "All men are equal before fish." I hope he meant women too, because a survey I was reading recently tells me that one in eight anglers is a woman.

I suppose you've seen these "Spot the Ball" contests in the newspapers showing a photograph of a dramatic football scene and you are supposed to mark with a cross where you think the ball is. Well, if interest in this kind of competition ever wears out or if too many people are winning prizes, I have an idea for newspapers that will really tax readers brains. It's called "Describe the Angler."

In this idea of mine, we would show a picture of somebody on the quayside or on the river bank or in a boat holding up a fish - you've seen these kinds of pictures - except that the person would be cut out, showing only the fish. Then the reader would be asked to guess what kind of person caught it - young, old, man, woman, expert or beginner, a smart-aleck or an idiot.

You should see some of these photographs of the people who catch those huge marlins and swordfish and tuna in the Florida Keys or at Miami. I can hardly bear to look at them. There you'll see an enormous fish like a whale hoisted up on a gantry on the quay and standing beside, the person who caught it - usually a slip of a girl holding a rod and grinning all over her perky face. It sickens me.

You just can't tell who catches what these days. Some brawny men who look like wrestlers have a marvelous day catching a couple of half-pound trout and it's not the first time I've seen a 14 year old girl holding up a 10 pound salmon she got out of the river.

The fish don't care - you can be sure of that. Well, they don't even know who's at this end of the rod, do they? That's what makes it the most democratic, non-sexist, non-racist, non-denominational sport in the world. All welcome - discrimination on grounds of intelligence, muscle, weight, wit, looks or nationality.

But hold steady. There are a few basic qualifications. First you have to be a little bit of a delinquent to be a dedicated angler... a little lazy... certainly philosophical in your outlook... patient beyond measure... a bit unmethodical... a little strange to the truth... and very, very hopeful.

Now, if you meet these qualifications don't worry about anything else - your age, you sex, or your race, I.Q. or the color of your eyes. No football manager is going to fire you; no boxing promoter is going to drop you. Angling's your sport.