Winter fishing means a fair amount of time on the canal for me. Unfortunately this can mean rubbing shoulders with some pikey types, and not in the fishy sense. I am never one to look the other way when anglers are clearly not following rules and have made a point of checking club licences of late. Pike fishing time is the worst of it too. You know the score- flashy lures bit no wire trace. No unhooking equipment. Landing net that wouldn't handle a goldfish.
The point is not to have a go, but to protect fish stocks and educate. Three local lads I met on Exeter Canal in their early twenties were just plain dishonest though. First I got the classic: "Left my license at home"- to which I give my customary: not much good there is it mate? Worse still, pathetic unhooking gear and net. Lie number two: "the tackle shop said this gear would be fine". Er, no. I know the staff there and perhaps their number one bugbear is clueless anglers who skimp on kit and don't respect their catch.
Thank god they hadn't caught anything- one got slightly irate, but I just calmly told them they couldn't fish until they had their licences. Off they went. On days like this, I'm glad I'm 6 foot 5 and 16 stone. Amazingly, they ranted about "bloody poles" before walking off.
The next angler I challenged, by sheer coincidence, was one of our much maligned Polish guests in person. But what a contrast; he was friendly and had a license. We spoke a while and I gently raised the subject of eating fish- at this the young chap pulled a face. "I hate the taste of fish!" he said.
We are very quick to judge and see things in black and white in this country. I have no doubt that some immigrants flout rules- but do we exaggerate without direct experience? I would certainly rather share my local patch with Piotr, rather than the trio of yobs I'd met earlier. But I'm not allowed to say that, am I?
On a brighter note, I'm enjoying autumn very much. A few pike are showing- although its slow going on the mornings I've sneaked before work. Some nice results have also come from recent photos, the following snap came from a day on the Lyd with Paul Hamilton: