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The growing popularity of fishing in France

The growing popularity of fishing in France

Have you ever wondered why fishing is so popular? Ron Cousins explains all…

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A few days before writing this I had spent five hours sitting at the side of a lake. A howling wind helped torrential rain seek out any access point through my waterproof clothing and turned holding the fishing rod steady into a feat of strength. When the time came to go home I took a last look at the assorted small fish in my keepnet, returned them to the water, and trudged back to the car across the soggy field. I had really enjoyed my day!

As you read this, there are dedicated carp anglers on the banks of large fish lakes across the region. They have spent days and nights in their bivvy tents waiting for the fish of their dreams to take the bait, a fish so large that help will be needed to hold it for a photograph. More often though, a lengthy session has a fishless ending - but everyone will have enjoyed their fishing and be ready for the next outing.

It isn’t only men who find going fishing, whatever the outcome, irresistible. More and more women are taking up the sport. In France, the Ladies Champion title is fiercely contested and currently held by Pauline Nervet from the Oise. In 2013 the World Carp Classic where 40 countries sent their top carp anglers to take part, was won by duo Lizette Beunders and Bianca Venema from the Netherlands.

So what is it that drives people from all walks of life to take up a rod and fish? Izaak Walton in his 1653 classic ‘The Compleat Angler’ said: “No life is so happy and so pleasant as the life of the well governed angler.” Herbert Hoover, 31st President of the USA from 1929 to 1933, summed up his compulsion to fish when he said: “Fishing is much more than fish. It is the great occasion when we may return to the fine simplicity of our forefathers.” And the late actor Lee Marvin explained the sport’s importance to his life by saying: “I only make movies to finance my fishing.”

The urge to fish cuts across the whole social spectrum from royalty and captains of industry to men of the cloth and the man in the street. Vladimir Putin is a keen pike angler, when he’s not swinging a golf club Tiger Woods is casting a line, and when Eric Clapton puts down the Stratocaster he becomes a fly caster. Actor Henry Winkler, best known as The Fonz in the TV series Happy Days, is so obsessed with fishing that he has written a book ‘I’ve Never Met an Idiot on the River Bank’ which has been described as the delightful ramblings of a man who loves to fish. The title is a good response to 18th century writer Samuel Johnson’s assertion that a fishing rod is a stick with hook at one end and a fool at the other.

Angling is recognized as the largest participant sport (and growing steadily) either side of La Manche. More people seek to escape the stress of everyday life and create a healthier lifestyle by heading for river, lake or beach. And there is plenty of help at hand for a non-angler who fancies finding out just what is the attraction of this sport that is the passion of so many.

France has a network of Ecoles des Pêches throughout the country providing fishing lessons for all ages in coarse, game and sea fishing. They come under the control of the national body that makes coaching available in all départements.

In Britain, the Angling Trust and Association of Professional Anglers are continually training qualified coaches to go out and teach the skills. The Countryside Alliance’s educational campaign ‘Fishing 4 Schools’ has Parliamentary backing and is aimed at youngsters who might not respond to traditional classroom-based learning but flourish out of doors.

Persuading computer age youngsters to move away from the keyboard and screen to try the great outdoors can be a problem but British fishing tackle manufacturer Korda think they have a solution. The Essex-based company has joined forces with computer games firm Dovetail to produce a fishing game dubbed the most realistic ever. Some of the biggest names in the sport have been brought in to provide the expertise that allows players to select virtual tackle and test their skills by baiting, hooking and landing fish. Brand manager and keen carp angler Darren Nokes explained that fish behavior within the game replicates real life, and the aim is to encourage young people to get into real fishing through playing the game, which can be tried by visiting www.dtgfishing.com.

No matter how someone starts fishing it is usually a sport for life and as such does much for social bonding with family and friends of all age groups. An angler can fish through a whole lifetime and it is a sport that lends itself well to the enjoyment of those with disabilities.

So how can you enjoy a day in the rain or several days and nights tented up on the side of a lake with maybe neither resulting in a fish being landed? It’s all in the name of this fascinating sport. Fishing - not Catching.

We go to the water to go fishing with the hope that there will be a catch. We go to be at one with nature and blend in with the surroundings. Could catching all the fish in the river have matched the day a kingfisher alighted on my fishing rod or when a heron settled on the opposite bank of the river and demonstrated who was best by plucking out a series of fish while I looked on bite-less? My own fishing journey started when I was 10-years old. Now, more years later than I care to remember, the urge to head for the bank side is just as strong and the excitement when the float disappears under the water just as great as when a boy in short trousers saw it happen for the very first time.

Spring is near so there is no better time to try fishing. But beware, fishing tackle comes with a warning saying ‘Addiction Forming and Can Improve Your Health’!

 

© Living Magazine - publishing February 2015