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Ronan's report

Thursday 4th August, 2011

I donít know where dadís passion for fishing began, he never really talked about it, or anything else in the distant past and with him being such a private man I never dared pry into such long lost time.

I do know that given his enthusiasm for the sport I was fated to be a fly angler from the moment I came into being. I remember well him teaching me to cast on the village sports field, and while his "whack round the head - do it again" technique may not sit well with AAPGAI or the FFF, he did eventually get me throwing a line.

He was there with me on his beloved river Dove when I caught my first ever trout, I remember the circumstances around the catch well. Dad had found a free rising fish for me but unfortunately my limited casting ability and the natural wading disadvantage that a nine year old encounters meant that I couldnít reach the fish to catch it. Dad could reach it however, and having covered the fish perfectly he hooked it and thrust his split cane rod and 1960 Hardy Lightweight combo in my hand to play and land the fish. However, the rod was heavy and floppy compared to the 5í glass rod that I was using (and still own) - to my dads great disappointment I lost the fish. Having received a rollicking lecture on the art of playing fish I sulked off a little further downstream, made some aimless cast down and across with a B&P spider and hooked a fish. Dad came just in time to help me land and unhook it. I remember how proud he was, Iíll never forget that day.

He taught me how to identify the common dry fly patterns, and that in the water they all look like a hareís ear nymph anyway. He showed me how to handle and unhook my own fish, easy ways of getting flies out of trees and to my two sisterís shock even how to gut them in the kitchen. Until the age of 17 everything I knew about fly fishing was what dad told me.

Dad fished cane almost exclusively. His smooth, mellow casting stroke was either grooved by cane rods or just happened to suit them better than faster carbon; either way his short/mid range casting was beautiful to watch. Not long after I could cast my small glass rod properly he had a cane rod made for me, this was high respect indeed from a very reserved man.

He was massively proud of his small collection of old-ish Hardy reels. Lightweights, St Aidans and the like. Not the flash, expensive ones as he was never wealthy or ostentatious enough to buy them, but the functional ones. They are all in immaculate condition, this was dadís way.

We went on many fishing holidays- that is we went on family holidays during which we saw very little of the female Buckleys. They shopped, sunbathed and did whatever it is women do. Dad and I fished. They were great days, even if throughout my education dadís "whack round the back of the head" technique continued. We even took a trips to Ireland and Wales without the girls a few times while I was in my teens, and slowly but surely I gained dadís respect as an angler if not quite as a man. I was still capable of the kind of moods and tempers that only come from a testosterone laiden teenage boy.

In the last few years I became a more proficient caster, fly tier and angler, and actually began helping dad with a few things. I was never short of a pattern for him to try or even new techniques, and he could be surprisingly receptive. I never tinkered with his casting - a metronome may just be a stick and a weight but itís a very finely tuned and balanced one that can be easily ruined.

In the last few years dad fished very little, health and time dictated that he didnít fancy it as much. I also started catching more fish than him, and he was a very proud man!

He was massively proud of my NZ trip. He didnít believe right up until I walked to departures that I would leave the UK, but I do remember a brief show of emotion from him as we said our goodbyes. He learned to send emails to keep in touch with me and I was later told by my mum that he would take the pictures to show family and friends just how well I was doing.

On Friday July 29th 2011 I lost dad after a mercifully short battle with cancer, he was just 61. He passed away peacefully and pain free surrounded by his family as per his wishes.

I realised in the few days prior to his death that everything I have and will achieve in fishing I owe to my dad. He taught me to cast, catch and return fish. More importantly he taught me that recreational angling is not a right but a privilege that should be bestowed only on those who are willing to care for the environments they choose to catch fish in. He worked tirelessly on maintaining the stretch of the River Dove that he had been a syndicate member of for over thirty years. Countless anglers have benefited from my dadís hard work.

When dad is laid to rest in his local churchyard he will have in his coffin half a dozen of his favourite fly patterns in his pocket, Iím tying them as we speak. Iím sure heíll find good use for them too because Iím pretty sure that each time I step into the cool clear water of his favourite river he will be stood right behind me, willing me on with the same enthusiasm that he had nearly twenty years ago. Heíll be laughing at my bum casts and telling me that I "wont catch anything there" or that "a GRHE would work better" as he had done time and time again. Heíll have a smile on his face the whole time, too.

Iíll never forget Dad, and I know youíll always be there with me.
Rest in Peace.

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