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The Lesson

They say “respect costs nothing”, but I have to say that it recently cost me a day’s fishing. I was visiting another water when I was approached by a kindly, well-meaning old man who took it upon himself to teach me to fish. Hitherto, I had been thoroughly enjoying the scenery, watching the bird life, chatting to my Labrador, Boris and eating my picnic.  I was still doing so when he pootled over and said, “How you getting’ on?” I answered honestly that I’d caught nothing so far. I didn’t mention that catching fish was such a tiny part of being  there. He said, “Well you won’t with your eyes goin’ everywhere but watchin’ your line. What fly you got on?” I sheepishly showed him my killer fly, which has accounted for more fish than I can remember, and he said, “Oh, nononono...!”, and pulled from the depths of his flybox a monstrosity that I would baulk at using for scaring pigeons. Ashamed to offend such a superannuated gentleman, I tied on his horrible fly, and then shudderingly watched him demonstrate casting my beautiful new Hardy rod like a blacksmith, and then teach me a retrieve technique which I then felt I had to pretend to have never tried. He asked how long I’d been fishing and I still failed to take my chance . “Thirty-five years,” said my inner voice. “I don’t fish as much as I’d like,” said my outer voice. “Well, if nobody puts you right, you’ll never catch anything,”he said. Dying inside, I then caught a fish by his method, and endured a talk-through of how to land it. (“Pull it to the left...give it some line...”) Fish in the net, I felt my duty was done and started packing my stuff away. He wasn’t finished. “How’re you gonna cook it?” Beyond flustered, I replied that I er...I would probably bake it. “Oh, nonononono! Microwave it!”, he said, “much quicker! Much softer! You’ll get in at five o’clock and be eating your tea at five past five”. I burned inside but somehow thanked him profusely and lingeringly. I’m not sure if I bowed as I left but I might as well have done. On driving home I reflected on the huge benefit of Wyresdale membership, giving as it does the opportunity to fish an entire lake in complete, blissful solitude. As for that other water - I doubt I’ll be visiting again. I dread having to endure Lesson Two. #WyresdaleAnglers

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