Do you know what really struck home to me during my time working with other anglers over in Kerry? How much laughter there was. Sure, sometimes the fishing fired and sometimes it didn't, but I couldn't help noticing just how much fun everybody seemed to be having - whether they were catching fish or not. I understand completely that our fishing is something that we take very seriously, but how often does this great sport make you laugh out loud, or simply smile and perhaps even dance a little jig for whatever reason?
Granted, it may well be that you're wetting yourself over a mate's mishap. Three of us were walking back from pollack fishing the other evening, and a certain fishing tackle shop owner from somewhere close to the Copper Coast was heard to remark how glad he was to be wearing shorts. When this purveyor of shiny lure fishing gear not a minute later slipped and fell into a thorn bush, obviously Paul and I collapsed into fits of giggles so bad I nearly had to go looking for oxygen!! As amusing as it was to watch this bloke pulling thorns out of his legs, isn't it so often fishing that provides the chance to laugh and laugh until your sides are fit to burst? What is better than sitting around with a bunch of good people and simply telling fishing stories?
Mishaps aside, some of my abiding memories from my few guiding trips so far are the people and the sheer amount of laughter and fun. Sure, I have taken plenty of photos of their fishing and their fish, but what you can't really capture via a still image is the sheer amount of joy that can be had when a group of people come together somewhere very special, with a common goal of having a good time from their fishing. And if just being somewhere as special as the south west coast of Ireland doesn't bring a smile to one's face, then I would worry about that person's soul. I accept completely that with this joint guiding venture that John Quinlan and I have perhaps been lucky with the people we have had come along so far, but it reinforces to me what a great bunch of people most anglers are.
Think back over your fishing life and ask yourself whether it really is the biggest fish that have made you laugh the most, and I bet that deep down there's no getting away from the fact that once again it comes back to the people. Anglers are what makes fishing in my book, albeit a few decent fish now and then of course is what we seek, and the older I get, the prouder I am to be an angler and work in and around sport fishing. Sure, at times I could cheerfully slap some people for say their ignorance that comes through via the online platform, but in the grand scheme of things it's a mere blip really. Fishing is too big, too damned awesome and just too special to let anything as minor as that detract from the sheer joy and pleasure and laughter that it gives us. Face to face is where real life is.
Laughter is intoxicating is it not? Going somewhere different for your fishing is pretty cool as it is, and especially when it's a place as outrageously special as Kerry, but it's amazing how quickly a group of people who are very different to each other can come together so effectively. The collective joy at somebody catching a fish ripples through a group and I love seeing it. It matters not how rich or poor one is when you go fishing. You can't buy a fish and laughter comes naturally. To watch grown men become literally intoxicated at the sheer thrill say at hooking big pollack from the shore, or to see bass swimming around that you can't catch. The yapping afterwards, the sharing of the simple joy that is going fishing - I love this. I am perfectly happy to go fishing on my own if needs be, but way above the catching of fish for me is the joy at sharing experiences that become memories. All the better if those memories are wrapped up with a good dose of life enriching laughter.