It has been many years since I last picked up a fishing rod in anger. As a young man, my greatest influence was Bernard Venables, the famous naturalist, angler and author who, through his writings and art, taught me to observe and love the wonderful world of the English countryside.
I was fortunate to have the River Kennet on my doorstep and during the summer months, I would often rouse myself early on a Sunday morning, and while the blackbirds were still snoring and having wormy dreams, I made my way eagerly to the water’s edge.
As the mist cleared and the sun began to show its face, it revealed the most glorious setting and was my favourite part of the day.
With one eye on my stationary float, waiting for that telltale rise and dip before sliding away as the bait was taken, my other attentive eye would be scanning the far bank for signs of water voles.
These comical little rodents are an endangered species today, but back then were a common sight as they busily patrolled their territory scavenging for food.
Then as the sun climbed higher in the sky, the surrounding trees and meadows would burst into life, birds found their voices and competed in the avian equivalent of The X Factor.
Legions of insects droned and buzzed into activity, and as if a gigantic artist’s brush had swept across the landscape, the countryside exploded into vibrant colour.
I was lucky to have all of this in my backyard, but sometimes I could be found fishing from a boat on the achingly beautiful Blenheim Palace Lake or studying the waters of the Hampshire Avon or Dorset Stour, searching for signs of the elusive Barbel.
But angling meant much more to me than simply catching fish and as the greatest of all anglers, Izaac Walton, once described the river bank, ‘the quietest and fittest place for contemplation.’ How true.
Perhaps I should dust off my tackle, but I doubt it would be quite the same now.