Okay, so I’m sure it can get quite lonely in Cumbria’s open spaces, but is this really how sea trout fishing begins to feel to those who fish there? Or is it simply the presence of the BBC that drags everything into trouser territory?
For 13 minutes of Radio 4’s Night Fishing documentary, in which Grevel Lindop celebrates the life and work of local poet and angler Tom Rawling, against the backdrop of a night fishing session on one of Rawling’s old haunts, it is captivating fare.
Thereafter, things take a bizarre turn, as the angler accompanying Lindop through the nocturnal gloom alludes to a sensual dimension to the pursuit of their prey. As if relieved to discover that the drive north from London hasn’t been a complete waste of time, the presenter pounces on this titbit like an owl on a rat.
“That’s fascinating, because in the poems, Tom Rawling often talks about the sea trout as being female and there’s very much the sense that fishing is some kind of courtship…or seduction…”
Like two adolescents whose guard has dropped while sharing a copy of Razzle, there’s no stopping them now:
“She’s calling us…luring us back to the water…”
“The catching of the fish is the marriage.”
“Her virgin scales cling to my hands…”
All of this triggered by the quite preposterous statement at the 13:55 mark – “It’s almost a sexual thing, I think – flyfishing at night…”
I’m sorry, I’ve had some wonderful evenings with rod and line but never have I been even remotely tempted to draw this analogy. There are some things you say when you’re fishing with your mates and then there are things you say when fishing with a Radio 4 microphone under your nose, and this, I would suggest, is a Category 2 statement.
But then it could just be me. Why not make the same point next time you and the gang are wetting a line, with darkness closing in around you? Do let me know if the conversation goes any differently from this…
“I don’t know about you guys but this is starting to feel like a sexual thing.”
“You still there?”
[AN OWL HOOTS]