Fishing: Brolly good for the maggot

FISHING LINES
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The Independent Online
AN anti-fishing organisation called Pisces has been enjoying very limited success in its efforts to show anglers the brutality of their ways. Without wishing to denigrate its sincere efforts, I have to say that it could use a spot of marketing consultancy.

Let's start with the name. Good idea, Latin for fish and all that. But limiting membership to those born under one star sign is a serious curb to recruitment. This might explain why the only Pisces members I have met fall into two categories: the ones who look like Swampy, only scruffier, and the mad-eyed old harridans, the sort that mutter to themselves in supermarket queues.

Pisces members mistakenly feel they are more likely to elicit sympathy by dressing down and trying to look like fishermen. This is a serious error. Closer examination would reveal that anglers' outfits are a subtle mix of complementary colours and designer labels that would leave Jasper Conran or Clements Ribeiro (see, we're not all Philistines) gasping. The trend-setter here is a woman called Sandra Halkon Hunt, a nice mix of the aristocratic and the plebeian. But more of her later.

Pisces members are advised to make a lot of noise. Newcomers are assured this will frighten the fish away. Sadly, the opposite is true. A line- up of anglers is more raucous than a parrot convention. Fish now associate the clump of boot and swish of rod with feeding time. Like Pavlov's chihuahua, carp and bream and trout start to slaver (metaphorically) when they hear curses and thumps and splashes.

Another Pisces strategy that needs rethinking is the idea of getting down to the bankside before the anglers, and heaving lots of bait in to fill the fish up. In principle, it sounds fine. In practice, it doesn't work. First, Pisces supporters tend to be more owl than lark. They appreciate the poetry of dawn rather than the actuality. Secondly, they are doing fishermen a favour. The process of putting in lots of bait attracts fish. Certain species, such as bream, carp, barbel and tench, will home in on free offerings, gobble up all they can and tell their mates. The result is that when an angler starts fishing, he finds the fish are already in front of him and hungry for more.

Why are Pisces members so splenetic in their dislike of angling? After all, most fishermen don't catch anything anyway. The party line is that angling is cruel - but they will find it increasingly hard to fly the flag now, thanks to the latest device from Sandra Halkon Hunt (I told you she'd reappear)... an umbrella for maggots.

I'm not kidding. In very hot or wet weather, baits like maggots and worms get overheated. Like humans, too much sun and they can even die. Maggots can climb like Chris Bonington when they get wet, scaling the sides of their bait container and making a dash for freedom. None of this happens with Sandra's 120cm bait umbrella.

The girlfriend of Alan Scotthorne, the first man to win the world angling championships three times on the bounce, Sandra is a keen fisherwoman herself. She is a member of the England women's team. She runs a flourishing clothing company. Despite all these distractions, she still finds time to design an umbrella that shows compassion for a maggot.

Given her designer background, it's no surprise to discover that you can even have the brolly in colours to match your clothing, or so that it doesn't clash with the colours of the maggots (available in bronze, fluorescent pink, red, white and blue, to name but a few shades).

Made of Goretex (none of your Oxford Street rubbish that turns inside out at the merest puff of wind), it can even be tilted to take account of the sun's position, so that the bait never gets subjected to those harsh ultra-violet cancer- producing rays. Is pounds 29.95 too much to ask for such an invaluable accessory? For Pisces supporters, this is very bad news. After all, it's pretty difficult to berate someone for their cruelty when he has a special umbrella that protects maggots.

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