Monday, 15 October 2012

Boys & fishing

So, back to the fishing then

Today I took Parps for the first time in some time after a disappointment in his short life required some distraction. It was also the first time I'd been since May. He will be eleven in a few days, and thinks he is getting a present. We are toying with telling him his real name

Parps' first fish, five years ago - not then practiced at the trophy shot. It wasn't scared of him

An estate lake was chosen in the hope that the recent rain would've put some colour into the water with the intention of carrying-on the big roach trend from the spring using the lift-bite method and bread flake or crust

As we arrived I suggested to Parps that it might not be a good idea to clump along the bank vibrating the ground and scaring the fish, nor would it be ideal to get too close to the edge. "In case I fall in?", he enquired, "No, because the fish will see you and swim off"..."Oh", he said somewhat disappointed that I had not superficially been more concerned for his welfare

We positioned our boxes close to each other in a comfy pitch without any snags at the water's edge nearby, nor overhanging trees and clear water in front, this seemed logical. The rod we would share, and it was set on rests between us together with various items of tackle on the ground beneath it

The wind in the wider landscape had strengthened in the afternoon but this passed high over the trees surrounding the mirror-like surface of the water with a tinge of colour only serving to limit vision below a depth of around fifteen inches

I got Parps setting-up various pieces of equipment, landing net, keepnet, rod-rests, etc., while I set-up the rod and attached the terminal tackle

A flock of canada geese were present, sharing the lake with a solitary mute swan and some mallards. This presented a tactical challenge. The bait was to be bread, all of these species are avid devourers of it and we felt maybe we needed a plan. Upon plumbing the need for a plan became policy when we realised that an up-ending swan would likely just be able to reach the bait on the bed

Now there have been occasions in my life when outrageous fortune has inexplicably descended on me and impending doom has been averted, one such that immediately comes to mind is when I was heading to a meeting to make a presentation when I would have been standing in front of an audience and the whole sole and heel of my shoe fell off while I was getting dressed. Moments later a boxed pair of new shoes were thrown by the Postman into the hallway while I was having my breakfast after I'd left the door open when fetching the milk! This moment wasn't quite in that league, admittedly, but it transpired that, at regular intervals, parents and children would arrive to feed the whole group of waterbirds in a peg two or three to our right while their view of us was obscured by rushes providing suitably regular opportunities to introduce some mashed bread into the swim and keeping them occupied long enough for it to sink before they meandered back past us to their snoozing area to our left

"Don't use the crust!", said Parps. I thought little of this as it looked quite dry in any event but obviously he was planning an ambush of some kind in his mind

As it happened the intention of avoiding the numerous small roach by fishing large pieces of bread failed due to the unanticipated perseverence of the little sparkly darlings. No lift bites ensued and instead we were treated to the fairly constant towing around of the bait, anchor shot and float by rutiliplankton with just the occasional strike connecting with a fish. In some ways this was good as it was the first time Parps had had to strike into a fish in the time-honoured manner, as previously he had only tried feeder fishing [set-up such that the fish hooked themselves (and he himself a few times)] and pole fishing when he could simply lift into the fish. So this was good practice. "Strike your arm across your chest until you feel the fish, then stop and wind it in", I suggested once, or was it twice? No, in hindsight, I think it was eight or ten times, but there was a distinct tendancy not to be too forceful, we will get there though, I guarantee it!

We had 'our' moments; winding the open-faced reel backwards, standing on the tackle box, putting the bung out of the landing net pole into the net, etc., but not one tangle and no strong words, in fact all but the perfect introduction to another type of fishing for him and a good few lessons learnt, including an unreasonable level of respect for the prized accumulated gear, especially that in our own boxes and a desire to improve on it to be 'like yours'

A kingfisher drew our attention briefly, and then again as it sought out suitable fishing perches in the fallen branches. We had discussed this possibility on the way and hoped to hear the 'plop' of one after a tiddler or two, but we had to content ourselves with the topping of roach and the twice seen streak of blue and orange

At this time the outstanding highlight of the day, for a ten year old, was reached. Soup time. This was where the crust came in, so it was more of a pea and ham-bush as it turned-out. I discovered it wasn't fish-food it was boy-bait and (boy) did it sound good, so good in fact that later, when the soup well had run dry, it was used as coffee crutons...they were still there at the end however, and somewhat scummy on top

We have a tradition we engage in after days out, holidays - any kind of event, in that on the trip home we discuss what each of us thought the best bit to have been

For me it was just being our there again after a few months' interlude (to quote my own, as it happened, inadvertently prophetic previous post title) but I said it was the kingfisher. I don't recall what my little chatterbox companion said as I had drifted into a world which I perceived as his mental state and came up with my own ten-item list in fairly precise order of importance:
  • The soup
  • The bread
  • Feeding the bread to the assembled feathered masses at the end
  • The fish we put back early because it had an injured fin
  • The banter
  • The strength of the rod
  • Looking at a fly I accidentally knocked into the water
  • The 'really good' reel
  • The stuff in my tackle box
  • The fish we caught (note: not 'he' caught, but 'we' caught). Tenth on the list.

Items 1 and 2
 It's fascinating that my earliest strong recollection of fishing with my Dad (The Old Duffer) is actually a smell. The smell of dried breadcrumbs in his faded red tackle box. I also remember how skilful he was (still is I might add), compared to me as a complete novice, and how I could never possibly get to be that good as he cast over to the rushes and caught bream after bream in those unending sunlit summer days. Nowadays it seems one is supposed to catch carp in the rain, I don't geddit. Of course it wasn't always sunny it's just that we didn't go if it rained...we watched Grandstand instead, and ate homemade apple pie

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