The other day I had that unfortunately rare opportunity to go fishing but I didn’t. What stopped me I hear you ask? Well mostly time and inclination, I didn’t have a full day available and if I’m totally honest, I really couldn’t be bothered to load all my gear into the car. At this point I was reminded of how simple angling once was and still can and should be today…
Thinking about that simplicity, there can be few anglers brought up in the 50s and 60s who weren’t influenced by Mr. Crabtree, the cartoon character created by Bernard Venables. Crabtree was the reason why I and so many other kids headed off to the riverbank, in search of their very own specimen fish, even if that ‘whopper’ only turned out to be a Gudgeon!
Many anglers today amass so much kit and tackle now, almost becoming tackle ‘collectors’ as opposed to ‘users’ of that tackle to catch their fish. Most of that ‘collection’ is transported to the bankside, often with great strain and effort, for each and every fishing trip, even if most of it is never used but why?
I can partly understand the requirement to set up your piscatorial base station on a randomly drawn peg when participating in a match. I can also get my head around a barrow load of gear, along with your chosen creature comforts, when setting up camp for a weekend big Carp session. In both cases you are stuck to one spot, you’re probably remote from any source of replenishment, or it’s forbidden by match rules. Therefore, to achieve your aim you need to try to cover all eventualities. But is there any need for all this during casual pleasure sessions, especially when river fishing? I don’t think so.
Venables believed that “merely to fish is not to be a fisherman – a fisherman requires a sensitivity to beauty and to the living world.” He also considered the intrinsic philosophy of angling to be a personal affair, developed and nurtured as the fisherman grows and matures.
I make a very close link between our belonging here and the will to fish. There is no natural medium in which the sense of life on earth is more evident than in water . . . Most of the things which are least pleasant about life now are the things which are most antithetical to fishing – Bernard Venables
Venables’ philosophy may have been a little out of step with the signs and developments of modern angling, probably even more so as time passes, however he observed with some disquiet; “fishing isn’t just an absorbing and delightful sport, but also an escape from the cares of modern life and a calm to the soul.”
Perhaps many anglers have lost sight of this simplicity or worse, believe that vast expenditure will bring the enjoyment and results? We may live in times where money can buy you most things however; to rely on that ethos looses the point of the process and satisfaction of the event. I don’t know about other anglers but I still find that I’m normally happiest when Fishing in the Footsteps of Mr. Crabtree.
I have to admit I can also be something of a tackle geek from time-to-time however; I still find enjoyment in the simplicity of angling. I have tackle for most disciplines, coarse, game and sea but like Venables, I don’t really have that much time for the commercialisation, competitiveness and obsession with technical gadgetry which has become such an integral part of many people’s fishing today. Perhaps its time to try to simplify things a little?
It’s time for what I’m going to call my Crabtree Kit, a small selection of easily transportable tackle that will hopefully cover most, if not all, of my coarse fishing requirements. The idea was partly inspired, out of necessity and by my long time fishing pall Alex. Last year whilst fishing, we both concluded that we had lost sight of angling simplicity.
He and I aren’t getting any younger and we both suffer with back problems, but the reasoning mostly came from the words already written above. What we needed was a modern but perhaps more technical version of the old rod, reel, creel and a packet of sandwiches approach, so synonymous with our early fishing years but hopefully still just as simple.
Time to get the thinking cap on and see what existing gear can be utilised. I also need to work out what new gear (if any) needs purchasing and when that’s done, I’ll be back with a post on the contents of my Crabtree Kit. Until then Tight Lines!
- Just another Crabtree Kid (bankbabble.wordpress.com)
- Obituary: Bernard Venables, Angler, Artist, Writer 1907-2001 (guardian.co.uk)