Fishing Lines: Take 1 actor, 12 slugs, stir gently before rolling on the bank with laughter

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The Independent Online

Some years ago, glancing through Old Moore's Almanack, I noticed that the angling page advised many such baits. I wrote to the publishers. They were horrified that their prediction bible (which has been going for more than 300 years) was decades out of date. "We just use the moon cycles to select the best days to go fishing," I was told.

People have written books on the moon's influence on fish behaviour. You can even buy a watch that predicts the hot times (as long as you can understand the 80-page manual). But Old Moore was there first.

The publishers asked if I would update the report, which I duly did. Every few years, I get a letter asking if it's still topical. I guess the same thing will happen when I die. In a century or so, someone will point out that the fishing section is recommending old-fashioned baits like trout pellets, or flies that use the feathers of an extinct bird. Still, it's nice to introduce myself as the fishing correspondent of Old Moore's Almanack.

One of yesteryear's favourite baits was slugs, though I notice from the latest Southern Angler magazine that one angler has rediscovered their effectiveness. Regular satellite watchers may have seen a film I made with the actor Paul Young, where we fish the Great Ouse. We hadn't caught much, but then I spotted some giant chub lurking beneath some willow trees, and called Paul.

"They're very suspicious," I told him. "They've seen all the usual baits: luncheon meat, worms, that sort of thing, and pointedly ignored them. The only way to catch one will be with a big, slimy slug. Natural bait, you see. They fall off the trees, and the fish eat them."

Paul looked understandably apprehensive. "Come on, we've got to do it," I urged. "The cameras are waiting."

We found a dark, dank area and turned over some dead wood. A few prime examples of the slimy horrors raised their little horns. "It's the only way, Paul," I said. I made him collect about a dozen, an experience that he rates among the worst of his life.

We crept back along the bank. Good! The chub were still there. Putting his hand in the tin, Paul shivered as a particularly fine specimen nuzzled his fingers. Making a face as if he'd just eaten a bag of lemons, he picked it up gingerly and put it on the hook.

"I'd suggest two, to attract one of the really big fish," I advised. He did as he was told. I couldn't contain myself any more, rolling on the bank with laughter. "I'd just have used a bunch of maggots," I told him through the tears.

He's asked me along a couple of times to make another film, but I know he's just out for revenge.