I fish with and work around a lot of different anglers and guides through the course of what I do and I guess I would class myself as a bit of a people-watcher, in that I do tend to watch and I suppose analyse to a certain degree. It's my nature and it has always fascinated me why some people are just naturally better at other things. Why for example is Tiger Woods blessed with all that natural golfing talent when countless millions are so obviously not ? Sure, I guess he works his backside off and one could of course argue that he is not the player he once was, but why is he such a good/naturally talented golfer and say Jimmy Anderson such a good/naturally talented fast bowler ?
Can one draw comparisons here with fishing ? Well I reckon you can. The saying goes that 5% of anglers catch 95% of the fish, and although these figures are pure conjecture, I do in fact believe the concept behind the saying. There are golfers out there who might play once, twice or even three times a week for example and just never seem to get above a certain level. If we call fishing a sport or at least a pastime then I personally believe that some anglers simply have more natural ability than others.
OK, so fishing is of course somewhat different to say golf or cricket because there is that one big variable for us - fish, or indeed nature. A golf ball is moved by the wind or affected by extremes of temperature, but it doesn't have a mind of its own like a fish. A golf ball does not need to feed or seek shelter. So while I do subscribe to increased natural ability being present within some anglers, I would never for one second discount the element of luck and/or chance in fishing.
I used to fish a lot with a number of local anglers who could not have been kinder in taking us uni students almost under their wings and helping us out so much, indeed I am forever in debt to these people. I got to fish with and learn from some incredibly talented anglers who are so wired into their local environment that at times it would almost blow my brain, but even then there was one particular guy who to me stood out above even all this natural talent. My theory was in fact that this angler almost didn't realise how much he knew if that makes sense.
He was almost fishing and doing things without thought it looked so natural. Now of course he has to have been thinking and analysing all the time to get as good as he is, but when you watch the guy fish it's like watching a golfer with a completely natural swing - something you are born with. So much knowledge, so much thought, so much skill, yet it all looks so effortless and natural. I can but dream............
But does the fact that an angler wins lots of competitions make them more talented than the rest ? Well as much as I personally have zero interest in competing with my own fishing, you can't deny that a competition angler who wins more than others has to be doing a lot right and secondly I believe has to have more natural talent or ability than the other anglers he competes against - otherwise even with the fish/nature factor why would this man or woman be winning more than the rest ?
Surely you have come across anglers now and then who seem to go fishing a lot but actually catch relatively little for all their efforts, but at the end of the day if one is deriving pleasure from the act of going fishing then does it actually matter ? Not for one second am I saying that one person is a better person than the other, rather it just interests me how some people just seem to have it in them to be naturally better anglers. Does this then hark back to the underlying hunter/gatherer instinct that whether we like it or not is within us ?
Whatever the whys and wherefores here, I happen to think that with hard work, an open mind, a willingness to listen and learn, plus that ell essential dedication, almost anybody can make themselves into a pretty handy angler. But how many of us in reality are that good at listening and learning ? Take a group of people though, put them through exactly the same fishing experiences and I bet you that one or two will just naturally become better anglers than the rest. The next question then is what actually is a better angler ? More to come from the recesses of my brain in due course, but all of you have a good weekend - come on England on Sunday when they play Italy. Let's be going to Cardiff next weekend on the hunt for the Grand Slam. Be still my beating heart !!