When I Stand On A Riverbank (Poem)

When I stand on a riverbank, not as an angler, I am enchanted.

Enchanted by the flow of the water, and the reflections of clouds.

Enchanted by the bank-side vegetation, and the nodding flowers.

By the birdlife as it clacks and quacks, peeps and sings, and flashes by in iridescent feathers.

And by the smells of crushed river mint, and water parsley and fragrant flowers.

Yet, not as an angler, I am soon bored, and turn away, not knowing what else there is to see.

A fleeting few moments that refresh the soul.


But when I come to the water as an angler, I come not to see, though see I do, but to engage the water as a creature of the river, and to learn, and to play a part.

As a mock predator, my senses are sharpened and my observation made far keener than any casual onlooker.

I see beneath the surface, just a little with my eyes, more so, much more so, with my mind.

Building a picture of that unseen land from small clues of swirling water and growing weed, and from the knowledge that I have learned of the habits of the creatures there.

Not for a few moments, or for many minutes, but for hours on end, I will delight in what nature has to reveal. 

Even when fingers burn cold, or cold wind driven rain whips against my face, I will stay and see and listen and enjoy.

‘You don't have to be an angler to enjoy going to the river', they say.

And by saying that betray a lack of understanding, not only of an anglers' passion, but of what is missing from their lives.

As they miss the sound of a gnawing vole, the site of a chub rising to a struggling fly, the companionship of a robber robin, and a sunburst through an evening mist.

Because they paused, and then passed by.

And having missed all of this, I could never explain to them the thrill of a dipping float, nor holding in my hands a piece of gold alive, and watching it return with a casual grace back to that half mysterious place below where their vision ceases, and an angler's vision goes.

Leon Roskilly