About Me.





It Begins.

The small boy struggled to keep up. His Wellingtonboots were not made for matching the great strides his elder brother and father made.  In any case, there were far more interesting things afoot.  He had been told that across the meadow nestled in the corner of the field up against the railway embankment was “Fletcher’s Pond”.  This was a special place where huge fish lived, fish of such monstrous sizes they would take his breath away.  Fishing?!!  He knew nothing about fishing or could care less, swiping the heads off nettles with a stick was far more interesting.  ”Come on keep up” his elder brother shouted.  The small boy pushed the willow wand into his snake belt and ran off towards his brother and father stopping periodically along the way to jump on cow pats.

 

Nearing the pond he ran up towards his father who was carefully peering through stems of reed mace at the waters edge.  “Be quiet now or you’ll scare the fish away” his father whispered.  ”What fish? I can’t see any fish!  ”Be patient, you’ll see”, his brother said.  ”There there!! There’s one there”.   The small boy felt a sense of curiosity coming on as he began to squeeze in between his father and brother to get a better look .    A dark shape was moving below the water along the edge of lily pads that grew beneath a large overhanging willow tree.  It looked like a submerged log , a dark purple monster with huge scales along it’s body that looked like pudding spoons.

The young boy could see the great fishes bright eyes and its huge mouth which was opening and closing.  Its fins and tail were enormous and quite red.  ”Wow look at that!!”  The small boy had never seen anything like it, and so close he could almost touch it.  Of course the boy never noticed the shafts of light which came streaming through the leafy branches illuminating the gin clear water below or saw the clouds of midges that danced in amongst them.  He took no notice of the Kingfisher that flew fast across the surface of the pond in a whirl of cobalt blue or even realised that ratty was busy munching on her green weedy breakfast not far away in the margins.    These and many other wondrous things would come later when he learned to see and appreciate natures miracles but for now, the fire had been lit and the adventure had began.  An adventure that would last a whole lifetime.

My Name is Lee Fletcher and that boy was me as a five year old long ago.   The image of that huge carp has stayed with me all these years and is as sharp in my memory now as it was back then on that hot summers day.

My Education.

I never did well at school really.  My own fault of course and certainly not any downward reflection on my teachers educational attributes.  That boy Fletcher they’d say, always looking out the windows always got his head in the clouds.  Now whether looking out the windows knocked any educational flare I might have had on the head I’m not sure, but I do know I found looking out the classroom windows a lot more fun than school work.  Watching the house martins nesting in the school eves was always more interesting that listening to Miss Dreary-Draws waffle on about arithmetic.  If only they had asked me where all the various birds made their nests I’d have been top of the class.  But they didn’t so it’s fair to say I was never going to end up being a professor or land one of those jobs my Mother used to say I should have.

School life for me at its best was bearable but I always had a keen eye trained upon the classroom clocks  as I counted the hours till the bell rang for home time.  Not that I ever went straight home of course as there were always diversions.  The top canal near home or “Cookies Pond” would draw me in and I would spend hours up in the trees peering down into the water looking at fish.  School summer holidays seemed to last forever and mine were mostly spent along the edges of streams, rivers and ponds.  Local woodlands and adjacent farmers fields were always  favourite haunts and a safe bet for Mum to find me at meal times.  I learned all about fish, birds and wild animals, plants and trees.  My thirst for natural history was unquenchable.   I eventually left school as an Easter leaver at 15 years of age with about the same qualifications I had when I started as a five year old.   I did however by that time have an unofficial master’s degree in all things watery and wildlife plus I could leave Miss Dreary-Draws standing when it came to trotting a float down the river for roach using wheat cooked in my thermos flask!  Perhaps if I had been educated about education I might have done better?   The truth is I’d probably still have looked out the window anyway!

Some of us excel at school, many are average and some are below average.  I was mostly below the below averages.  I wasn’t stupid or dyslexic, not even idle and never disruptive.  I just wasn’t interested enough to stand the remotest chance of passing any exams.  But in later life as an adult did I ever regret my school days in as much as doing better at school might have opened up doors to a “better” career perhaps?  In my case that has always depended on what matters the most in my life.  A “better” job with prospects for climbing some corporate ladder might well make some happy with their higher salaries, posh cars and holidays in far away exotic places.  But would such trappings of modern life make me happy?  Driving to work through leafy lanes in the countryside I love makes me feel happy.  Watching the wildlife as I work in rural locations makes me feel privileged and building things with my own hands gives me a tremendous sense of satisfaction.  Seeing each season unfold year after year amid my country homeland is amazing.   Can one buy contentment, true happiness and spiritual well being?  In these things I am wealthy and own riches beyond my wildest dreams.

University of Life.

My fishing career has pretty much run in tandem with my passion for wildlife.  Indeed, any true angler will tell you they are one and the same and fishing is not just about catching fish.  Simply being there amid watery surroundings is often enough and catching fish is a bonus.  I’m greedy and actually like doing both!  As a young boy my fishing began on the Erewash Canal near home or amongst the farm ponds on the Stanton Estate nearby.  Very much float fishing in orientation using a Mexican reed rod, Intrepid reel and my begged, borrowed collection of floats, I would mostly fish for roach and perch.  Bait was always what I could scrounge out the kitchen or dig up in Dads garden.  In the early days bread and worms were the mainstay but these basic baits were extended with the addition of stewed wheat when I began to fish the river Trent around the age of ten.  Those were the magical days, the days of mystery and learning.  I was actually very lucky in that I had a lot of help from some amazing anglers over the years who taught me the art of float fishing a river especially on theTrent.

I started to fish the local gravel pits as a teenager learning how to fish for tench and bream.  I recall how cold it was fishing for pike in the winter back then.  We had to improvise when it came to cold weather gear in those days so cold feet and hands were always the norm.  For a while I diversified straying into the world of “field sports” or for want of a better description in my case “poaching”.  I kept lurcher’s and long dogs plus a few ferrets so would go “lamping” for rabbits and hares in the night or go ferreting for rabbits in the daytime.  I learned how to set snares for rabbits, pheasants and partridges and would go long netting with my brother Peter for rabbits at night.  Sometimes if we were lucky we would have the permission from the land owner but mostly we would be poaching.  My interest in field sports lasted a long time and locally we were known as the “hunting, shooting ,fishing Fletchers”.  Oddly though, the year I moved into the Vale of Belvoir which is undoubtedly a heartland for hunting and shooting,  my participant interest in field sports waned.  Where once I would have looked for a kill with the left and right barrel and been glad of it, I now lean against a five barred gate and marvel at the wildlife I see through my binoculars.

I suppose I drifted into specialist angling in my mid teens and like most young anglers of that era I started off targeting tench.  At first I would fish for tench in the gravel pits at Attenborough and I still remember those dawn starts and rolling mists with bream and tench humping out whilst we were tackling up.  A group of us then started to fish for tench at Wollaton Hall near Nottingham.  We would go on our bicycles in the dead of night and creep in to fish on the “beach” next to the woods.  Fishing through the night whilst sometimes having herds of deer all around us drinking at the waters edge was pretty spectacular.  Then in my late teens I returned to where the adventure began way back when I was a five year old, back to Fletchers Pond and what was to be my first experience of carp fishing.  Having caught lots of carp from there I often wondered if one of those fish caught was the one I saw on that fated day?

Many a local carp angler cut their carp fishing teeth at Fletchers so it holds a special place in many local anglers memories.  Since then I have fished for almost every English freshwater fish at one time or another.   I have been blessed with fishing through thousands of sun sets and fished beneath thousands of starry nights.  Many times it seemed that I was sitting with God himself watching the sun rise slowly above the distant horizon with mist rolling up from the river out onto the fields.  I have seen many spectacular things in and around the wild places that I have fished and cherished every second .  So it’s fair to say that I’ve ended up being a true countryman.  I know the wild creatures ways and know their various habitats intimately.  Admittedly the type of skills I possess would never have got me on the short list for a bank managers job but then again,  I can think of nothing worse than peering out of plate glass windows in some plush office watching the world go by without me.

Giving Something Back.

Since my early angling beginnings I have always tried to put something back into angling.  Over the years I have sat on various angling club committees whilst volunteering as a bailiff some of the clubs I’ve been involved with whilst also being actively involved in various conservation projects.  I am a founding member of the SAA (Specialist Anglers Alliance) and been involved in other angling political initiatives.

I won’t however start to ramble on about angling politics here otherwise you might all start to find yourselves looking out the window!!

Angling has given me tremendous amounts of pleasure, so much so that I decided, after a lot of deliberation, to embark upon creating this website.  I guess this is my modest attempt at passing on some of my knowledge.  If we cannot pass on knowledge or leave something for those who come after then what have we really achieved?  I hope you enjoy my wittering .  If it helps to inspire in a way where you find yourself compelled to spend more time in watery places in search of fish to catch then it has done its job well and I can ask for no more than that.

The Here and Now.

I am married to Liz and we live in the Vale of Belvoir in a pretty little country village.  I have a small building business and life is good.  Life they say is what you make it and not everything is measured believe it or not by how much one looked out of the window at school.  I remain as passionate as ever about catching fish and being in watery places.  I also like photography, water colour painting, gardening, wildlife, country walks, old things, all types of music, good films, good food, almost all types of alcohol especially Guinness and Irish Whiskey.  I am a passionate supporter and advocate of democratically operated  “open to all” fishing.  I dislike marzipan, figs, dates, dictators and dullards.

Special thanks goes to my wife Liz for being the wonderful girl she is and to Sam my youngest son who sorted the original website out whilst being on hand 24/7 to sort out his Dads computerised cock-ups.  Thanks to my eldest Tom who also put up with my “how to do” computer interrogations who is just finishing his degree at the Northern Film School.  If Spielberg won’t have you Tom, we always will.  To my loving Mother I dedicate every single painting I paint, every sunrise and every sunset, to you xxxx

In Loving Memory.

Special thanks to my dear late father John who taught me so much about life whilst being the guide who first led me towards paradise.  Special thanks also to my very much alive brother Peter who kept taking me there until I was old enough to take myself.  Our hunting, shooting, fishing adventures are the stuff of boyhood dreams that I will cherish forever.

Something Worth Thinking About.

Only after the last tree has been cut down.  Only after the last river has been poisoned. Only after the last fish has been caught.  Only then will you find money cannot be eaten.         Cree Prophecy.

Lastly to all my friends who over the years might have wondered why it is I catch more fish than them?  It’s quite simple really.  I’m better looking.

 

Kindest Regards,

 

Lee Fletcher.