My son Leo came over in the summer and gave me a present of a hat. As a matter of fact he gave me two hats. The first was a Whitton Lions woolly hat (Leo plays flanker for the Whitton Lions). This is a very fine hat and is nice and warm for the winter. My daughter Pippa was also treated to a Lions hat and the two of us are just waiting for things to cool down enough to warrant putting them on. I live in Andalucía while Pippa is at university in Glasgow so my guess is that she will be wearing hers first!

The other hat Leo gave me has become my new “fishing hat” and he had this in mind when he selected it. Until recently whenever I have ventured to the river I have been sporting one of a few battered baseball caps that I have thrown into the back of the car. These have certainly done the job but I do have my image to think about and if I am entitled to consider myself a seasoned fisherman maybe it is about time I started looking the part.

A fishing hat is no dumb accessory. For the capture of fish it is as important as a fishing rod – more maybe. A good hat will shade your eyes while you try to establish whether you are looking at mud on the bottom of the river or a fish on top of mud on the bottom of a river. These look pretty much the same most of the time. And a decent hat will keep the sun out of your eyes whatever angle it is coming from. If it rains, a nice wide brim will let the water drip in places less annoying than down your neck.

And of course, at least in theory, a decent hat will make desperate women weak at the knees and make them lose all sense of propriety and restraint. This is theoretical of course because women, desperate or not, are unlikely to come across me as I crawl through the thorny vegetation encroaching the Guadalhorce.

Leo´s fishing hat scores on all fronts. It makes me look like the rugged cowboy in the Marlboro adverts. It keeps sun rain and everything else off me and it fits so snugly that it won´t be easily whipped off my head by a strong wind.

The acid test though is whether it is a “lucky” hat. A hat might tick all the boxes but if it does not bring good luck it would be a worthless dud and I might just as well throw the damn thing into the bushes.

We have now had three outings together, this hat and me. Things did not start well. The hat and I turned up at my local stretch of water one evening and I tackled up well out of sight of the fish and then, before I could edge my way to a casting position, two bastards appear out of nowhere and drive a horse and buggy through the shallows I was intending to fish. And then after they had churned up the shallow river and scared the shit out of everything swimming in there they turned the whole rig around and ploughed through it all over again! Then all that was left for them was to smile and wave at me and disappear over the horizon in a cloud of dust.

I have to say that this gave me all kinds of doubts about this new hat. I looked at the bushes. I looked at the hat. I thought about terminating our relationship right then and there things but decided in the end that maybe I should give it a second chance.

As expected, I didn´t see a fish in the pool ploughed up by the buggy and was too lazy to head off downriver to where prospects would have been better. In the end I was saved from the ignominy of a blank by one of those little delinquent fish that throw themselves onto the hook in situations where anything with half a brain would have run a mile. Little fish like this save our asses on many occasions. We all owe fish like this big time! If asked if we have caught anything we can truthfully say that we did and just hope there is no follow up questions as to how big it was.

A few days later the hat and I went fishing again. On both this and the previous occasion I was actually at the river to collect some algae for my students to look at under the microscope and the fishing was just incidental. I did however enjoys have a horse and carriage-free experience the second time round and managed to catch one decent fish.

Yesterday was the third day that the hat and I fished together. This time it was a “proper” fishing trip and I felt I was giving the hat a rigorous sea trial. I was keen to see how it would stand up to the vagaries of an afternoon on the river.

I am happy to say that the hat really performed. Between the two of us we had five good barbel and would probably have caught some more if the thought had not entered my head that a pint in the local village might be nice while there was enough sun in the sky to bask outside.

Interestingly, two of these fish took me well into my backing, which was something that does not happen too often. The first of these I hooked in the shallows at the head of a long pool. I don´t think it knew that we were attached to one another as he turned downstream and swam very casually beside me. And then all hell broke loose and before I knew it he was wallowing in the margins and sticking his nose into the weeds 40 metres downstream.

And so it looks like Leo has landed me with a decent fishing hat after all. After a rocky start we have established a partnership and I am looking forward to the many adventures I hope we will share in the future.

Go Lions!
Moi avec chapeau et poisson
One going back
Briefly beached before being released
A little the worse for wear – this rather nondescript nymph took all the fish