How much do “perfect conditions” end up teaching you?

We are anglers and we always wish for “perfect conditions” - whatever those might be for you and your fishing - but how much does going fishing when everything seems to be ideal end up teaching you? Don’t get me wrong, I’ll take perfect conditions as much as possible thank you very much and I will never say no to a bunch of decent fish that want to impale themselves upon whatever I throw at them, but it really struck home a few weeks back in Ireland when we had seriously less than ideal conditions how much that situation then resulted in us learning a whole lot more about what we might do in the future when faced with a forecast like that again………

I would guess that you keep an eye on as many weather forecasts, crystal balls and even webcams as I do, indeed it’s hard to imagine my life now before I lived near the sea nd tides and winds didn’t rule my life! Home fishing, away fishing, it matters not, we are looking for those times when tides and conditions come together and we seriously fancy our chances at banging a few fish out - and then your head drops when things don’t look so ideal. I know I am guilty of talking myself out of going fishing sometimes because I reckon conditions are somewhat less than ideal, but the beauty of these fishing trips away is that because you are away from home, you’re going to go fishing almost regardless and try to almost make things happen - and without a doubt this can end up teaching you so much more.

A few years back we did some filming for the now discontinued Tight Lines Sky Sports programme over on the south coast of Ireland, and whilst we were pretty much bound by when crews etc. were available, I distinctly remember worrying like crazy because the forecast was so dire for bass fishing - the middle of August, baking hot, big blue skies, as bright as you like, and to top it all off, east winds. Time to go mullet fishing if you ask me, but we were there to film bass fishing, and via some kind local help we ended up fishing a strong run of current in an estuary that produced some of the most amazing bass fishing I have been lucky enough to be a part of - and to this day I still regret the fact that we were filming, because if we hadn’t been, we’d have caught so many more bass, and there were some serious fish around like this near as dammit double figure fish above.

The fact is that filming fishing stops you actually fishing for a lot of the time, and especially when I was presenting the short film - trying to do a piece to camera (PTC) again and again because your mates keep hooking bass on Black Minnows which means you need to start again because of needing to help land fish and yap about them to camera etc. What I really want to do is rip the microphone off my top and smash some bass myself, but I can’t, at least not until we’ve got the PTC out of the way, which is proving somewhat tricky because my sodding mates can’t stop hooking bass!

Anyway, sorry, I digress. Wow did those few days teach me about certain locations and certain conditions, as did my last trip to Ireland a few weeks back. A forecast that I would have seriously considered cancelling the trip on if they had been forecasting it a few days before we left to catch the ferry over, yet we ended up catching a bunch of fish in less than “perfect conditions” - which in turn helped to put so much extra information in the memory bank for future trips and what to try and do if we get similar conditions again. We were almost forced to do things we might not have done if we had got “perfect conditions” - different locations, different tide states to when we might usually fish them etc. - and at the end of the day I would argue that we came away having learnt far more than if everything had gone totally to plan for us. And let’s be honest, when does everything go totally to plan with fishing? It’s us trying to get one over on nature, and I would argue that nature knows a little bit more than we do.

You all have a good weekend. I have been bricking myself all week about the rugby tomorrow morning, but I truly believe we can go 2-0 up in the three match Test series against Australia. I am trying as much as I can not to get too overexcited about English rugby because of all the disappointments we have had to live through since November 2003, but I can’t help it. I am hugely overexcited once more, and I will always love how such a beautifully aggressive and violent game on the pitch never, ever lends itself any of this perfectly despicable supporter violence I read about at this Euro football thing in France. Best of luck to Ireland and Wales tomorrow as well, but I simply can’t see Wales turning the All Blacks over in their own backyard, and especially not after that midweek thrashing. Ireland though for a 2-0 lead in their series? Bring it on!