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Why fishing is my life

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Fisheries and biodiversity, Water
John Bailey (left) with the EA's Fisheries Enforcement Officer in ENS Nick Beardmore
John Bailey (left) with the EA's Fisheries Enforcement Officer in ENS Nick Beardmore

From a very young age, I knew I just had to fish!

I really do remember watching a fly fisherman from my parent's hotel bedroom window when we were on holiday in Wales. It was on the verge of dawn and the water was still, pewter and mysterious. That did it. It had to be an angler's life for me. I was 3 years old!

Once I learned to swim, aged around 4, I was free to walk to the local canal and a year or 2 later to cycle even further afield. I picked my fishing up with my friends. There were no courses or tuition. We learned on the job and we learned from our mistakes. I barely caught a gudgeon in those early years but I did come to appreciate fishing.

If you are a true angler you know in your gut what makes fishing so precious. It is the beauty of water, of fish, of wildlife, of dawns and dusks. It is the challenge the fish present and the thrill of landing them. It is the chase, the strategising and the dreams of monsters in your sleep. Your fishing mates are paramount and the stories we all tell. But the whole is more than the sum of its parts. Fishing becomes a witch's brew of enchantment and the older I become, the more potent the effect.

I have always revelled in close in, close up, intimate fishing. I love stalking and sight fishing. I am fascinated watching a float at the rod tip or a piece of crust by the edge of the lilies. This is why long range carping or beach casting have never really appealed. Fishing is about me and the fish, eyeball to eyeball, toe to toe in deadly combat!

For many years much of my fishing took place abroad. Between 1989 and 2009 I fished in 64 different counties but now I am England-based, apart from odd trips to my cottage in Spain. I love the underdogs of the fish world. The crucian carp for example, or the dace or the river roach. There are many wild species under threat and that is why the EA is so vital.

I work with the EA a lot here in East Anglia and I am impressed by the good work they do. The fisheries team is out there doing hands on work on our rivers and still waters on a day to day basis. This is important stuff. The guys (and gals!) I meet are expert, hardworking and passionate. They deserve our money, every penny of it. Personally, if you are an angler, I cannot think of £27 better spent. And I mean that from the bottom of my heart, after a full 50 odd years pursuing the sport that I love.

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  1. Comment by Dean Mitchener posted on

    Such a wonderful story John, thanks for sharing!

    • Replies to Dean Mitchener>

      Comment by Rex Barker posted on

      Inspiring words John. I always enjoy your writings and blogs but there is also a lot to do to secure the future of our rivers and still waters and above all the fish facing so many threats in Norfolk.

  2. Comment by Mike Turner posted on

    I can relate, starting at 4 years old on small farm ponds, the canal, and then the huge challenge of the Ribble in Preston. 50 years on and so many magic moments and memories later, the enchantment lives on.


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