I have recently written my first article for FishingMagic, which was about what drives and motivates me to go fishing and why I love the sport.  This led me to not only start to look at fishing from an alternative angle, but also to examine and question my own fishing ‘career ’ and mindset.

Humans, as we all know, are amazing creatures, one particular facet of mankind that intrigues and amazes me is the power of ambition or the desire to achieve a particular goal, and how driven and motivated we can become by something that to other people might be insignificant or pointless, but to us it could be what we live for.

What I’m trying to get across here is where a personal goal or target has been set, is how humans have a capacity to focus on this and this alone, sometimes pushing away more pressing or seemingly important concerns.

But what has any of this got to do with fishing?  Well I’d say that fishing has got to be for me one of those goals or targets in my life that to others, without the love for our sport, would appear on the surface to be irrational.  In particular from my experience fishing not only occupies my time that I actually spend on the bank, but at many other times to, such as whilst discussing what colour to decorate the house with my girlfriend!

The point here is that my drive to go fishing also has the knock on effect of motivating me to try and improve and learn more/better techniques and skills as a result.  This has lead me recently to review how I go about trying to learn new fishing skills and techniques, and to see if its possible to make better use of my precious time I set aside for my fishing ‘development’.

I have recently experienced this first hand, when a few years ago I decided to break with my usual fishing habits and to embark on a new adventure, to specifically target rivers and the wonders of moving water.  This created a massive need for some further river fishing education to begin.

But where do you start when trying to learn a new fishing skill/technique or develop your existing skill set?

Now there are so many forms of media to learn from, Books, Video, Internet, Magazines and of course from fellow fishing colleagues. Everyone learns best from different mediums and also at different speeds.  I’ve spent many hours reading old river fishing books and the minuscule snippets from the weekly magazines that discuss the lesser known sport of river fishing, without ever really ‘learning’ anything. 

It’s all very well reading other experts views on fishing techniques and skills, but it’s all so subjective.  It gives a good grounding on the basics, but how once you know the theory do you actually put this into practice?  I for one can read fishing books for weeks on end without any of it really influencing my day to day fishing habits or techniques.

Most of the river fishing books I’ve read were written at a time when dinosaurs walked the earth and catching a 40lb plus bag of roach on a river was an achievable target, oh how things have changed.  I do learn small snippets of information from these types of books, but nothing that can really move your fishing skills to the next level.

So from old dust covered books that did not really help in my quest for river fishing knowledge I moved onto the more modern medium of the video tape! Some of the greatest ever anglers have been captured on tape, our very own Graham Marsden and his fishing for Chub video on the River Severn a prime example of the kind of resources at the deposal of the modern angler.  I did have to question if I needed to wear the peaked hat that Graeme modelled in the video or if I would still catch Chub without the latest fishing fashion accessories! 

Again these videos were all very useful to learn the basics, but did not answer all the various questions about specific situations and tactics ‘swimming’ about in my head, and after buying some good videos, some poor videos and some more than indifferent I decided that my hard earned cash could be put to better use on new fishing equipment!

So on I trudged in my search for the golden ticket to allow entry into the school of becoming an expert river fisherman.  But where next, as my results on the river were defiantly not showing the fruits of my labours at fishing school.  

At this point it was time to take a step back and look at the bigger picture, which I think can be difficult as it’s easy to become blinkered by over analysing every aspect of fishing techniques and tactics.  What this made clear to me, was in fact how far my fishing had come since the first trips I made to the river as a young lad match fishing, even struggling to catch anything above a few ounces.

Once I took a step back and realised that the main driver behind improving my fishing appeared to be time spent on the bank, as the saying goes ‘there is no substitute for experience’, I was then able to realise that every fishing trip I made was all adding to  this pool of fishing knowledge.  I now understand that practice makes perfect and the best way to develop as a river fisherman is through putting in the practical hours on the bank, especially if this can be under the guidance of an experienced fellow angler.  I think watercraft is a prime example of this.

I guess my conclusion here is as with many facets of everyday life, theory is all well and good, but theory is just that, theory.  What really matters is application of that and interpretation of theory, which is something that can’t be rushed, as the man from Heinz said ‘good things come to those who wait’.  Now when I read the fishing press and see the latest 15lb Barbel or some massive 8lb chub, I understand that these stories are not the normal exploits of an everyday angler, but the hard work and devotion of a lifetimes obsession with our sport (either that or just plain good old British luck!). 

I am now much happier in the knowledge that one day my time will come as I hold onto the old adage that ‘every dog will have his day’.  If you can take anything from my ramblings above it would be an encouragement to you as a fisherman to look at the bigger picture and see how every cast you make will help make you a better angler, and no matter what age we are, we never stop learning.

Tight lines to you all……………