Dom Joly: I now like golf and fishing. There's only gardening left

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The Independent Online

Middle age is inexorably creeping up behind me. Another milestone was shattered yesterday when I went fishing and really enjoyed it... aaarrggghhh. First golf, then fishing – there's only gardening left before I shuffle off this mortal boil.

I'm on my annual summer holidays in Canada, an event that seems to be getting longer every year. We're staying with my brother-in-law on an island in the middle of Lake Muskoka. He's a proper outdoor Canadian and must look upon me with deep suspicion. He does Ironman events and goes off fishing for weeks in the wilderness. I, on the other hand, get nervous in the dark and had to get him to come into our room to kill a small bug that was looking at me in a funny way.

My success or otherwise in the world of media means nothing up here and I'm trying my hardest to adapt. Just two nights ago I managed to light a small bonfire on some rocks by the lake. All was going really well until a stray spark set fire to some dry pine needles. The resulting conflagration threatened to wipe out the entire cottage, but fortunately my brother-in-law was able to put it out before things got critical.

So, a few nights ago, we were sitting safely on the deck, chugging back beers while our womenfolk (man talk) dealt with the children. Out of the blue, he asks me whether I want to go fishing? Obviously I don't – I want to stay here on the safe deck, drinking more and more beer and waving at passing boats. Nevertheless, we're soon in a tiny boat bobbing around in the middle of the lake, our lines trawling far behind us.

I have no idea what to do, but his instructions are simple – drink more beer and wait for a bite. This seems very easy to me and so we sit there for an hour or so talking about manly things and making jokes about how hard done by we are.

Meanwhile, back in the cottage, our wives feed and bathe our kids before putting them to bed. Back on the boat, we drink more beer and say admiring, manly things about the gorgeous sunset. This is definitely my kind of "sport".

Suddenly, there's a huge yank on my line (a fish, not an American) and I jump up excitedly.

"I've got one," I scream.

"Reel in, reel in," shouts my brother-in-law.

So I reel in for all I'm worth and I can feel the fish fighting my every effort. Suddenly I'm Hemingway – it's me versus beast in our eternal battle for the conquest of nature. I can hear the wire zinging in my reel and the end of my rod is bent almost 45 degrees. I feel sweat on my back as I push myself hard back into the seat of the boat, kicking my feet against the rail for support.

We are totally alone on this giant lake – just my scaly opponent and I. This is a test – I must land this monster to earn my man spurs and get man respect. I won't be defeated. The fish pulls again and I hoick back my rod. The fish is tiring and the reeling in gets easier.

Finally, after what seems like an hour, the beast jumps out of the water and I am able to eyeball it for the first time. It is a small-mouthed bass. It is a small, small-mouthed bass – tiny, in fact – even I can see that. I reel it in and hold it up. It's no longer than my hand.

My brother-in-law is laughing. I unhook the pathetic minnow and let it go. It's certainly not enough to gain me access to the "outdoor man's club", but I've got the bug. I crack open another beer and cast my lure back into the dark waters of the lake. It's official – I'm hooked.

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