Fishing Lines: Call of nature causing trouble

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I FEAR that sales of The Woman's Guide to Angling* will not be helped by a curious incident this week involving a female backside, a photographer and a miners' fishing club.

Let me hasten to add that the author, Judith Milner, does not own the controversial posterior. Judging from the front cover of Milner's book, I doubt whether those coal-streaked pranksters would have dared take her on. It shows her fishing on a snow-covered river bank, in the sort of conditions which would persuade any male angler to stay in front of a warm fire. I suspect that she is not a woman to be trifled with.

So perhaps Ann Parrott, of Bentley, near Doncaster, will glean some valuable advice from The Woman's Guide to Angling, though my version appears to be missing the chapter on Dealing With Men Who Take Your Picture When You're Caught Short.

Parrott has been kicked out of Bentley Miners Welfare Angling Club for bringing the society into disrepute. It is difficult to get to the bottom (sorry) of what has happened, but it appears that she was answering the call of nature at Station Pond, Bentley, while a photographer was taking pictures of a land development.

Ms Parrott claims that she has been the butt of club members' jokes ever since. They say that there are no pictures and it is just a joke that has got out of hand - so much so that her pounds 12 permit has been withdrawn because she complained to the angling press.

'I've done nothing wrong. The Peeping Tom is the true culprit. I believe this is sex discrimination and I want to take it further,' Ms Parrott has been quoted as saying this week.

You have to feel some sympathy for her predicament, but it illustrates one reason why Milner is casting in murky waters by trying to convert women to fishing. Few waters, for example, have lavatories conveniently situated for anglers.

Milner's book, however, claims angling is the perfect activity for women. Her main justification seems to be that it is good exercise - 'like yoga, with exciting bursts'. I have found it like yoga, but without the exciting bursts.

Women are also better at fishing, says Milner. Her only real argument for this is that, in 1922, Georgina Ballantine caught a 64lb salmon, still the British record, and that another woman caught 304 fish in three and a half hours.

Milner sometimes get her lines a bit twisted. 'I am convinced we should not allow any more foreign animals (such as mink) into the country because of the upset they cause to the delicate balance of nature.' Does she realise that the rainbow trout, which takes up a great part of her book, was imported from North America in the 1890s?

Billed as 'The essential book for all beginners', it is sadly a long way from that. Sea angling, from marlin to cod, does not even merit a mention. She dismisses coarse fishing: 'I do not understand people who catch fish that are not edible and return them to the water. To me, coarse fishing does not add up to angling.'

So maybe she won't be helping out Ann Parrott after all.

The Woman's Guide to Angling by Judith Milner (Thomas Harmsworth pounds 13.95).

Marcus Berkmann is on holiday