Reeling in the aisles

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The Independent Online
MY WIFE has never really forgiven me for taking my rods on honeymoon and making her carry them. Her constant harping about this, 11 years on, is extremely unfair because I didn't take the full set: just two rods and a few scraps of tackle.

Some women readers may consider the very idea of taking fishing gear on honeymoon as grounds for immediate divorce. But in the annals of love versus fishing, my exploits scarcely rate a one-line mention. There are anglers who have fished on their wedding day, others who have booked honeymoons to prime waters and even some who married on the riverbank. The story about an angler taking his hat off as a funeral cortege passes where he and his mate are fishing, and saying: "Ah, she was a good wife," is not that far off the truth.

If you find this sort of behaviour extraordinary, consider a throwaway line in this week's Angling Times. It comes in the report of the British Waterways Team Championships on the Oxford Canal, won by one Dean Hancox from Leamington. The story says: "Dean, who almost didn't make the match because his wife was expecting a baby, went home pounds 800 richer after netting 28lb 7oz 4 drams of chub for top place." I was tempted to telephone Dean and get the inside story. Did his wife have the baby early that morning so Dean could grab his tackle and slope off fishing? Did he ask her, "Any contractions yet?" and rush off to the canal when she answered in the negative on the assumption that even if she had the baby while he was fishing, he wouldn't be that late? Did he drag her along to the competition so that if she went into labour on the bank, he could pack up and take her to hospital - always assuming that he wasn't catching well?

Sadly, I suspect the truth may be that the couple had a row when he started loading tackle into his car. For a while he considered not going, but he had already paid for the ticket, he hadn't been fishing since the previous Sunday and what a waste of all that bait. Besides, what could a potential father do unless he was a midwife or an anaesthetist?

Dean's dastardly deed is just another cameo of where wives and girlfriends rate when the fish are feeding. Looking back through the angling press over the past few months, I've found a couple of prime examples. Linsey Wall and Ian Paynton from Banbury rowed out to an island at a fishing complex in Devon and were married to the vows of, "Do you promise to love, honour and go fishing every day?" Letty Malone of Rotherham was so determined to hook her long-time boyfriend, Phil Smith, that she conspired with his mates to organise a week-long fishing holiday that was actually a wedding.

To pass judgement on such events is tricky, especially as my wife reads this column and I was hoping to sneak a rod or two into the family luggage if we get away for a week in the autumn. But you have to feel that these women, far from hooking their men for life, are actually making a rod for their own backs.

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