Fishing Lines: Top Dolt goes a bridge too far

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THIS is the time when solemn commentators pronounce upon the year's most memorable quotes, and give recognition to those who have influenced sport in some way. So I am delighted the editor has allowed me to endow the 1992 Elliott Awards for Angling.

There has been fierce competition for Dolt of the Year. The runner-up award goes to a late entry by a Leicester fisherman, who bought his girlfriend just what she wanted for Christmas - a 5ft cactus plant. He kept it hidden in his garage for weeks, and faithfully watered it. When she unwrapped it, he said: 'It's in lovely condition. You've got to water it regularly to keep it like that.'

'I doubt it,' his loved one replied. 'It's plastic.'

But the winner, also from Leicester I'm afraid, is the man who fished a competition on the river Soar and picked the plum draw, No 21. Unfortunately, he didn't know the river and got lost trying to find his peg. After a lot of walking, he discovered the spot, sat down and had a wonderful day's fishing. When the scalesman came round to weigh the fish, he recorded the catch of No 20 and walked away.

'Hey] What about me?' shouted our champion.

'You're not in our competition,' the scalesman replied. 'You should be on the other side of the bridge.'

The Most Interesting Angling Article award has been won by a new magazine, Improve Your Coarse Fishing, for a picture story on what famous anglers have in their flasks. Just the stuff to help you catch more.

Dick Carr, an Essex lad who has collected the Most Creative Use of the English Language award for several years with such gems as 'My wife had a pre-ignition about it', is once again an easy winner. A tackle rep, Carr was bemoaning the state of the industry recently, saying: 'They're all going into liquidisation.'

The I Told You So trophy goes to the Mail on Sunday's angling writer, who described the river Erne at Belleek as half fish and half water, and predicted aching arms for all the competitors. Half failed to catch anything, including most of the Australian team. Channel 4 is showing the whole sorry story on 2 January. Though I doubt whether it will have captured the Irish official who said: 'I thought these guys could fish better than this.'

There have certainly been some memorable candidates for the Quote of the Year. Highly commendeds for the Scottish commentator who said: 'Kim Milsom has caught three or four fish in his first two casts,' and for the Friends of the Earth spokesman who warned anglers: 'If you have a cut on your hand and put it into the river Trent, you could get food poisoning.'

But this section, and the You've Got to be Optimistic to be an Angler award, is won by the nameless top angler who bought a Rolex in his local pub for pounds 35. Although he was assured by the salesman that it was definitely a genuine Rolex and was only that cheap because it was a clearance item, a couple of weeks later, the watch disintegrated on the riverbank.

But the angler wasn't disheartened. As he told his friends: 'You couldn't get a Rolex strap and case for pounds 35.'

A Happy New Year to you all.