This is a true story. A few years ago a famous pike angler, notorious for keeping his venues a closely guarded secret, rang Angling Times to inform us that he’d just landed a huge fish and needed someone to come and take the pictures. Great, we thought, we’ll send down a photographer to get a ‘scoop’ for the paper.
However, we hadn’t factored in this individual’s deeply confused mental state. And his rank stupidity.
“We’re on our way, where are you?,” we asked, as maps were readied alongside the cameras.
“Err... I can’t say,” came the blindingly idiotic reply.
The conversation ended shortly afterwards.
You see, this specimen hunter suffered from the same problem that afflicts many of the anglers whose pleasure lies in the pursuit of larger than average fish. They are in constant personal conflict ¬ wanting to profit from the sport through sponsorship and therefore in need of publicity, but hell bent on protecting their fishing by not giving too much away. In short, they’re selfish b*stards who are happy to use every trick in the book to avoid letting you know where they caught their fish from.
What an absolute pleasure it was then, to hear from Keith Little. Keith is the man who made headlines with the year’s best chub at 8lb 6oz.
The first surprise was that in reporting it, he volunteered the venue. I have lost count of the number of times anglers insist on using vague references like ‘southern stillwater’ or ‘Midlands pit’ or, worse still, ‘north west river’. Sometimes you wonder why they don’t just say ‘a water somewhere in the western-speaking world’ and be done with it. But Keith’s honesty didn’t end there.
Next he told us the area ¬ Waltham Abbey ¬ and the stretch ¬ Fishers Green.
He even took us to exactly the spot where he caught it ¬ the Animal Swim ¬ and where he actually cast his bait.
Save from putting a sign up in the river itself, he marked the spot with an ‘X’ and said ‘help yourself’.
It was an unbelievable act of selfless sincerity in a climate normally clouded with half-truths, ambiguity and out-right lies. It was also a gesture that spoke volumes about the man’s confidence in his own ability too. When you’ve landed a staggering 300 chub over the 6lb barrier you can, perhaps, afford to be generous with your information.
I am not expecting it to act as a watershed moment though. Specimen hunters aren’t about to undergo a collective personality transplant and reveal their secrets. And, in some cases, that is entirely justified. No-one wants to see vulnerable fish ¬ perch and pike are two notable examples ¬ hounded to death by constant recapture.
But surely, if anglers choose to parade their achievements in national publications, enjoying the perks that follow, then a little bit of honesty every now and again isn’t too much to ask.
I salute you Mr Little. Your chub was great, but your generosity greater.