There are three perennials that provide cast-iron proof that summer is on the way.
One, the year’s first double-figure tench is reported. Two, Keith Arthur writes about visiting Key West. And three, and most significantly, commercials start throwing up obscene weights of fish.
On some venues you could almost set your watch by it. They start relatively slowly - April brings 200lb bags - and begin to build until, come July, there will be screaming two-deck headlines about record-breaking hauls of 600lb-plus.
Quite what motivates these people to undergo what are, to all intents and purposes, endurance tests has always been beyond me. I fish for the challenge, the idea of being clever enough to outwit a wild creature, for a chance to enjoy the battle in surroundings that don’t resemble a lunar landscape. Hauling as many stunted, hungry and net-weary carp as your tackle and body - will allow in five or six hours fills me with much as enthusiasm as collecting stamps.
So you can imagine my excitement at news that Mark Ryder, bailiff at Drayton Reservoir, wants someone to set a world record for the weight of fish caught in 72 hours. I could barely contain myself.
First things first. This isn’t a match with money or kudos at stake. As far as I understand it, it’s just two anglers against the clock. Nor it is much of a spectator event either. Even certain satellite channels, desperate to fill air time, would surely baulk at the prospect of filming three days of baiting, casting then reeling in. Ad nauseam.
And, finally, it’s not really a measure of angling skill, is it? Physical staying power maybe, but on a venue with a stocking density as large as Drayton’s, not genuine fishing ability.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it would be easy. I’ve not seen these match-style carpers ‘live’ but I’m told it requires technique, discipline and teamwork.
On bountiful places like Drayton, one will constantly spod out bait while the other casts the rigs - normally a zig rig - and deals with what fish come along. Mechanical then, but not artful.
So given this ‘challenge’ is not a contest or a visual spectacle, and it’s not really a feat of skill either, I’m left with the feeling that it all seems a bit, well, pointless.
Why, I ask myself, bother to put the fish through the stress of unnecessary capture for something so head-scratchingly futile?
The Guinness Book of World Records is full of spurious ‘triumphs’ that lead you to the conclusion that the participants are either self-absorbed egotists or individuals who simply have too much time on their hands.
Eating 36 cockroaches in a minute, putting 10 rattlesnakes in your mouth or balancing a 352lb mini on your head are not measures of human intelligence or skill. Yet someone, somewhere saw fit to undermine genuine expertise by acknowledging the utterly pointless
Please, please, please let’s not degrade the sport of angling by adding a giant catch of carp to that ludicrous and inglorious list of irrelevance.