Angling: Where anglers mix with borderline psychopaths

Annalisa Barbieri on fishing
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The Independent Online
FISHING AND technology are not the most obvious of partners but they go together better than one would first think. I'm not talking about carbon fibre rod techno stuff but rather the internet.

If you've been umming and ahhhing about getting on the internet, thinking it's full of unsolicited sites for border-case psychopathic nerds then you're in for a surprise. One of the best sites is Ally Gowan's (ds.dial.pipex.com/ally.gowans). Ever wondered how much that fish you caught weighed? Well here, by inputting the length and girth (presuming you know it of course) Ally's copyrighted formula will tell you the weight of the fish. There's also a section on fly tying with the recipes of a few flies - including, of course, Ally's Shrimp. You can read about conservation, about Ally's "credentials" and - here's a treat for no one - in "Casting Tuition" there's a picture of me. It was taken a few years ago when I was in Perthshire and was tying my very first fly under Ally's tutelage. Be warned: I look frightful but, more importantly, the fly I eventually tied was magnificent.

But my favourite bit of Ally's site is the "Fishing Links" which gives you one-click access to various other web sites. The first listed is www. flyfish.com and here you can look at archive articles on fishing (this section is quite small but being added to all the time) and download some fab idyllic scenes of fishing that you can use as screen savers. The "Frequently Asked Questions" section covers useful things such as basic terms - what's a tippet, leader etc, which can take you into more technical sites to explain further.

From Ally's site you can also connect to my favourite fishing magazine, Fly Fishing and Fly Tying (www. flyfishing-and-flytying.co.uk) which has many useful links (including www.sexyloops.co.uk which is about casting). They cover fly-tying materials, fishing in Ireland and Scotland, and books. The latter will take you direct to the very useful Coch-y-Bonddu Books site (www.fishing.org.bonddu).

Another excellent magazine, Salmon Trout and Sea Trout is also on line (it has a direct link from Ally's site). It gives you snippets of what's in that month's issue and links into Icelandic sites such as www.lax.is which tells you all about the fishing there. You can also - if your computer allows - view "movies" such as "Flying Fish" and look at lovely photos of rivers, flies and leaping salmon which is a very good as a de-stressing device.

The on-line "Where to Fish" directory is an absolute must (www.where- to-fish.com). Here you can tap in the name of a river or still water and it will tell you who to contact and how much it will cost to fish there. On the Wild Trout Society's website (www.wildtrout. freeserve.co. uk) you can find out about what this very worthy organisation does and become a member if you're not already.

A fairly new site, on just its third edition is www.fishing.co.uk which is an on-line fishing magazine. Here you can read features on game fishing, sea fishing or corase fishing; you can check out the ads for cheap fishing tackle to buy, or post an ad to sell yours. In the clubroom you can chat on-line with other fishermen: a current "thread" is "Flyfishig (sic) in Ireland" where someone called Cozy has asked where is the best place to fish in Ireland and Dan has replied that in the west of Ireland, Lough Mask can be good.

House of Hardy has a very impressive website (www. houseofhardy.co.uk) where you can read about their products, clothing, and there's also a useful section on fishing conditions for various rivers, although this could do with being updated more often. If you prefer to watch fish instead of fish for them then www.fish.com tells you all about aquarium fish, and you can look at pretty pictures of them.

Finally, the www.uselessknowledge.com site is not one directly associated with fishing but it is a sterling site none the less. Type in a word and it will come up with tons of useless facts associated with it. So, you put in "fish" and you get the knowledge that a pregnant goldfish is called a "twat", that the female marine catfish hatches her eggs in her mouth, each day 100 whales are killed by fishermen (surely not???), that the swordfish is the fastest fish of all and that it can swim at 68mph and that most tropical marine fish can survive in a tank filled with human blood. Well, I did tell you they would be useless facts.

a.barbieri@independent.co.uk

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