Paul takes the North West Angling Fair bait

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Fishing expert Paul Young has performed a juggling act between his high profile TV presenting and acting career for over two decades but having entered into semi-retirement in recent years he now has the luxury of choosing only the jobs he’ll enjoy.

Fortunately for local fishing fanatics, the North West Angling Fair comes firmly into that category and the ‘Hooked on Fishing’ presenter was happy to take the bait and accept an invite to make a public appearance at the Derry City and Strabane District Council event that returns to Strabane on the weekend of April 8 – 9.

“If a job sounds stressful now I can just leave it now so it’s nice to have the luxury of choice,” he explained. “When we were doing an early series of my ‘Hooked on Scotland’ television series we made a few programmes in the North of Ireland, we were always warmly welcomed there and the programmes were very popular so I’m delighted to get another opportunity to come back over. Every fisher is different; some people want to catch big fish, others prefer small fish, some people want to wade around a Lough and others are keen on rivers - the North West of Ireland has something to suit all those tastes.”

Paul’s acting life predates his role as a TV presenter by some 35 years, he has enjoyed a remarkably varied career since he started out as a child stage actor that has included appearances on Coronation Street and parliamentary sitcom No Job For A Lady.

Most recently he has been involved in the latest series of Scottish comedy sitcom Still Game but his days are now more regularly filled by gardening, cooking, crosswords, spending time with grandchildren Rosie and Jack and, of course, fishing.

“I’ve been fortunate to have had a varied acting career and it has taken me to some varied places,” he admitted. “I filmed a western in Spain and on the Queen Mary, a retired Ocean Liner on Long Beach in California. I worked on No Job for a Lady with Penelope Keith who was wonderful to work with while more recently I appeared on Still Game, a comedy based in the West of Scotland. I am fortunate that my producer on the fishing programmes Ricky Walker is involved in making films as well so we were able to build the timetable around each other’s schedules and I was able to do some acting in between. I find the fishing programmes more difficult than acting. When you’re acting there’s a script to guide you but when I’m doing the programmes you’re trying to fit it into a set template but you don’t know what will happen on the day. Ideally you would want to catch a middle sized fish, then maybe lose one, take a break for commercials and then catch a big one to end the show but it rarely works out like that.”

This week’s visit will be Paul’s second trip to the North West Angling Fair after a previous appearance when the event came to Newtownstewart in 2013.

On the Saturday afternoon he will take a walk around the Melvin Centre and along the banks of the River Mourne to meet and greet fellow fishing fanatics in a relaxed environment which he feels allows people to discuss the art of fishing at ease.

“I have a wander around and people can stop and have a chat if they want,” he continued. “Sometimes if you’re on a panel on stage people are apprehensive about asking questions but this lets them approach you in a more informal setting. I’m happy to stop and talk to anyone, it used to be autographs people asked for but now it’s all about selfies. You don’t get a lot of opportunities to hear what people think of the programmes so that’s one of the things I like about coming to events like the North West Angling Fair. Our last series was made in the US a few years ago but they are the type of programme that a lot of people have recorded and watch more than once so it is still reaching new viewers all the time. The programmes are still available on the Discovery Shed and the fact that people still watch them and want to talk about them is a real compliment.”

Paul is one of a number of high profile special guests attending the North West Angling Fair this week.

Others include expert fly dresser, Peter O’Reilly, Henrik Mortensen, who has worked professionally with fly tackle design and development for more than 27 years, and Belgium born specialist Yang Quintus. The event will also welcome a host of world class fly tiers and dressers who will demonstrate and advise as well as talks from experts and cookery demonstrations.

Three times World Spy Casting Champion Scot MacKenzie, fly casting expert Gordon Armstrong and the head ghillie at Ness Castle Lodges, Robert Gillespie are also on the packed bill.

There will be a series of outdoor casting demonstrations at the River Mourne under the Pedestrian Bridge and daily talks on a number of subjects including Trout in Strange Places and Salmon Fly Fishing by Dr Ken Whelan and Jason O’Riordan.

Operating from 10 am to 5pm each day, the full programme of events is available online at www.derrystrabane.com/anglingfair.