In this excerpt from his book Yet More Sweet Days, the late Tom Sutcliffe ruminates on the pleasure of fishing alone.

“I guess you could argue that the true solitary fishing experience favours your chances of slipping into a deep contemplation about the true meaning of life, though for me it doesn’t. I tend to immerse myself in what I’m doing and don’t easily lapse into any serious internal dialogue, say, about the parlous state of the world, the increasingly obvious indicators of my own mortality, or the times I’ve really screwed up in life – which, come to think of it, may all be important reasons we go fishing in the first place. Angling has a nice way of wrapping you in a seemingly timeless, unthreatening present, like a temporary release from reality, but you don’t need to be alone for that to happen. It even happens when you are fishing in company.

The Bokspruit River – art by Tom Sutcliffe

I suppose the most you could say for fishing alone is it lets you move at your own pace, being slow to semi-comatose, or maybe brisk and racy, it’s your choice, and there’s no one to tell you when to leave, or that you can’t take a nap, and fetching your own flies out of trees is better than fetching a pal’s. These are mildly liberating virtues in their own way, but on balance, most of us – outside of the committed loners and the true misanthropes – would probably opt for company on a trout stream, if only because it’s more pleasant to share an experience than to live it alone; and because who otherwise is going to believe you caught that hog from an impossible hole on a size 20 dry fly on a perfectly executed first cast?”

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