Transcripts

19 May 2007: Guardian

Fly fishing: Why I love it

Diana Rigg Actor

When I was young, fishing was mainly a male pursuit - they didn't really want women on the river - but now it's becoming much more commonplace. You meet some fascinating people through fishing. I had the great privilege of going fishing with Ted Hughes. I went down to Devon to read through Racine's Phedre - I've learnt reams of parts on the river banks. We didn't catch anything but walking along the riverbank was wonderful. I remember being rather shocked, because I'm prissy, I try to keep my fishing tackle tidy, and Ted's was an absolute mess.

My first catch was a sea trout, and then I graduated to proper trout fishing on a dry fly and that is my real love; it's so delicate, it's the Mozart of fishing. It's not just the thrill of catching something but being on your own with nature carrying on around you. Trout streams are my favourite, and I've fished in New Zealand and on the Mitchell river in Canada. I've never fished in India where my dad used to, but I'd love to.

Charlie Whelan Political commentator

I started fishing when I was a boy on the canal in Surrey. I gave up when I worked as Gordon Brown's press secretary in the late 90s and started again when I left. Working for Gordon was a 24-hour job, and fishing is a hobby that takes up a lot of time. I bought a fly rod about 10 years ago and after a week I caught my first brown trout. I love the solitude. You've only got to experience standing in the river. It's not something I can even put into words. Once I was in a river and an otter swept past me. The great thing about seeing an otter is that it means the water is pure.

Fishing is probably the most relaxing thing you can do, which is why even the future king of England goes fly fishing. I enjoy fishing at night, in June. I love the beauty of the Highlands, the beauty of the river. I've never been abroad to fish and I don't intend to. One fish from the Highlands of Scotland is worth hundreds from abroad.

Ian Botham Cricketer

Cricket is my job and fishing is my passion. I'm a country boy and first started as a youngster. It was never too serious, but when I got to 18 I discovered salmon and sea trout fishing in Scotland. I must have enjoyed it because it took me eight years to catch my first salmon. If I had to give up all other sports, fishing would be the last. I particularly enjoy the tranquillity and the scenery. It's a total turn off from the rest of my life, dashing here, there and everywhere with a pretty chaotic schedule, and very therapeutic.

My Illustrated Life by Ian Botham is published by Cassell Illustrated at pounds 18.99

Fiona Armstrong Newsreader

I started fishing when I met my first husband. I was so glad he wasn't interested in football. After that I was hooked. It's taken me to Scotland, Ireland, Niagara Falls and Alaska, where I met my second husband on the banks of the river about four years ago - not only did I catch a big fish but also a gorgeous husband. Most of my fishing has been in the north of England. My favourite river is the Cassley, where I caught my first salmon 20 years ago; you never forget your first salmon. Mine is a great but pressurised job, so I love to relax by the river and to be out in the countryside, to be at one with nature. Most fishermen are conservationists; they want beautiful areas and they want them to continue.


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