THERE is something magical and hypnotic about the sport of fly fishing.
As I stood on the banks of the Arlington Reservoir near Berwick, the sun shone, birds chattered and insects buzzed, the stresses of modern day life melted away from me.
What replaced it was an improvised symphony written by nature and intense concentration on snaring a fish.
Fly fishing is a fascinating skill to learn and there is an awful lot to it.
In a couple of hours I found out how to put the rod together, flick it up out of the water, up over my head and then shoot it back into the reservoir.
Then I gently tugged the line back towards me, imitating the movements of the fake fly we had hooked to the line.
Looking at the insect life whizzing around us, my coach Tom spotted the hawthorn fly, a big black beast of an insect which I had never seen before.
He explained they would have been blown down from the hedgerows because of the strong winds gusting over the lake.
Tom fished inside his jacket, which was the angling equivalent of Mary Poppins’ handbag, with dozens of pockets containing an amazing volume of fishing paraphernalia, as well as the box containing the flies.
It took him a while to find the box in fact, because the jacket had just been through the wash, he said and everything had been tucked up in different pockets.
Tom explained we should pick a pretend fly which looked like the hawthorn fly, so the fish would be fooled into thinking it was the real thing.
He used proper fly fishing vocabulary to explain it, but in essence that was what he meant.
There were some fishing journalists on the Arlington Reservoir Media Day, organised by South East Water which I attended, so there was an awful lot of fishing jargon zinging about the place and at first it was like they were talking a different language.
Here are few of the words I picked up: flylife - the insects you have flying about the place; weighted damsels – presume is some sort of fake fly with a weight attached to it and a bag - the amount of fish you can catch eg an eight bag, not the bag you put it in. Presumably you put it in a bucket.
Tom showed my several boxes of “flies,” imitations made from feathers and sparkly materials, explaining what insects some were meant to be and how you should use certain ones to tie in with the season.
I didn’t catch a thing and I got the line all tangled up twice!
Sussex Express photographer Peter Cripps got two bites, but no cigar, or trout rather.
But I must stress we were casting into quite shallow water and it was windy and sunny, which the fish don’t like.
Apparently it’s because they have no eyelids and the glare of the sun is a bit too much of them.
Speaking to Tom, it’s the unpredictability of fly fishing which seems to be the real lure for him.
You work your way methodically from one side of your spot to the other, if that doesn’t produce any fish, you might try a different fly, or you might move to another part of the lake.
Finally this is a past time I could seriously get into.
You’re out in nature, calm and almost meditative.
All that pops into your head are the sounds of nature and concentrating on netting yourself some dinner.
People wanting to learn to fly-fish can take part in a Beginner’s Day at the Arlington Reservoir in Sussex on Saturday May 19 May.
The cost for the Beginner’s Day is £15 per adult, £10 for a child between 10 and 16. A combined adult and child ticket is £20. All equipment is provided.
For experienced anglers a day ticket ranges from £17 for a two fish permit to £25 for an eight fish permit.
The 120 acre Arlington Reservoir site lies at the foot of the South Downs and is designated as a Local Nature Reserve and Site of Special Scientific Interest.
It is one of the finest rainbow trout fisheries in the South East.
Anyone wishing to fish at Arlington or wanting to book a place on a Beginner’s Day should contact South East Water’s Fisheries Office on 01323 870810 (ext. 20) or visit www.southeastwater.co.uk/fishing for further information.