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When it comes to holidays, anglers are spoilt for choice. Dozens of tour operators and tourist boards churn out brochures offering everything from minnows to marlin in every corner of the globe. But in spite of the tempting accounts of enormous catches of the 'it was that long' variety, one thing you won't get, of course, is a guarantee that you'll hook any fish.

Most holidays are themed according to one of the three categories of fishing.

Sea fishing is usually arranged round daily boat trips, which take groups of anglers offshore to benefit from the local knowledge of the boatman. If you are coarse and game fishing (for salmon and trout), holidays will normally include the necessary permits. They may also include gillies, who will advise on the best areas of the lake or river, bait, or types of fly. Tackle can usually be hired locally, but you'd be wise to take your own waterproofs and, for fly fishing, waders and insect repellent.

Prices are given per person where possible; where none is indicated,

contact the tour operator for details.

THE LEARNING EXPERIENCE: Whatever type of fishing you choose, you need to make sure you're in the right place, with the right tackle and bait for the fish. Tour operators and hotels will invariably be able to advise on this. When it comes to fly fishing, there are specific casting skills which need to be learnt - or you'll never get the hook anywhere near a fish. Most hotels which organise fly fishing will be able to help with the basics, but the School of Casting in Selkirkshire (0896 85293) runs a week's course for pounds 105 ( pounds 75 for under 16- year-olds), with accommodation at the Tweed Valley Hotel (0896 87636) from pounds 257 B&B. The hotel can rent rods and arrange salmon and trout fishing on the River Tweed.

THE HEMINGWAY FACTOR: Sharks, whether mako, hammerhead or blue, are on the agenda at the Algarve Big Game Fishing Centre in Portugal. A three-day package costs pounds 109 when added on to a holiday with Algarve Select (0625 585196). Kings Angling Holidays (04024 53043) bases its sea fishing holidays in Ireland and also offers blue shark, plus conger eels and giant skate. And for those who want a real taste of the wilderness, Finlandia (071-409 7334) can arrange 'ice fishing' in Lapland (you drill a hole in the ice with a giant corkscrew, Eskimo-style).

TAKING IT EASY: After that, coarse fishing might seem a little tame - but at least you're likely to have the time to relax and enjoy the river bank or lakeside. Ireland is a favourite destination and several tour operators offer a good range of holidays: try Cliff Smart's Angling Holidays (0536 724226), Leisure Angling (051-734 2344), Anglers World Holidays (0246 221717) and Anglers Abroad (0226 751704).

SPLASHING OUT: There are two easy ways to spend a lot of money: fish for salmon or head off on a long-haul flight. Anglers World (0246 221717) combines the two in its Canada's West brochure where seven nights at Queen Charlotte Lodge in British Colombia could cost up to pounds 3,000. All Canada (0502 585825) offers three days' salmon fishing at Chilko Lake Lodge from pounds 344 (excluding flight).

FAMILY FAVOURITES: Inchbae Lodge (09975 269), a former Victorian hunting lodge in Ross-shire, has three family rooms and welcomes children. It offers free fishing for wild trout for adults and children (but boat hire is pounds 15 per day). Seven nights half-board cost pounds 275. VFB Holidays (0242 240331) includes fishing in its France Active programme based in La Clusaz in the Alps. Children who get quickly frustrated with not catching fish, can encounter them face to face at the Anglesey Sea Zoo (0248 430411) in Wales, and the Nausicaa sea centre in Boulogne (010 33 21 30 98 98), which both have a wide range of species in their tanks.

THE LONE FISHERMAN: As far as the brochures are concerned, single anglers don't exist. Nearly all the holidays on offer are based around at least two people sharing a room or self-catering cottage - indeed the best prices are often for groups of four or five. If you don't want to pay heavy supplements, some operators may be able to arrange sharing. Otherwise both the Tweed

Valley Hotel and Inchbae Lodge (see above) have reasonable rates for singles.

CUTTING COSTS: For a really low-cost holiday, you could try Pontins at Pakefield (0772 621621), which has an angling week at the end of September for pounds 83 sharing a self-catering chalet. Otherwise, the cheapest way is probably to organise your own trip - but there will usually be some costs attached to the fishing. In Britain, you can't simply dangle a hook into any lake or river that takes your fancy. You'll need a permit to fish from the owner of the water (which can be very expensive - say pounds 40 a day for salmon fishing), and except in Scotland, you must have a rod licence.

Annual licences cost pounds 45 for game, pounds 15 for coarse fishing, but there are one-day versions from pounds 1.50. All are available from post offices. There is also a close season for coarse fishing in the spring, and for game fishing in the winter, during which the sport is strictly prohibited. Dates vary from country to country and even from river to river, and the whole system is currently under review - so check locally for details. In theory, sea fishing is free, but to get access to the best fish you'll probably have to hire a boat, or pay to fish from a pier.

THE INDEPENDENT ANGLER: The governing bodies, overseeing local clubs and activities, are the National Federation of Anglers (0283 734735) - coarse fishing; the Salmon and Trout Association (071-283 5838) - game fishing; and the National Federation of Sea Anglers (0626 331330). Tourist offices such as the Scottish Tourist Board (031-332 2433) have details of local seasons, permits and angling clubs and associations.

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