Wednesday 22 July 2015


Pre-natal impression?
I've been waiting for today's trip for just over three long years. Yes three, and if that doesn't make me patient I have no idea what does!
Not many people can say they've had to wait that long for one fishing expedition. Sure we've all had to postpone a few because of ill health, abysmal weather and there's always that unexpected  family crisis which takes precedence of course. I've even missed a winter season because of a river in spate and had to wait a year for the next slot.
Not impressed yet? How about if I told you that finally after the patient waiting and anticipation, all the organizing and preparation, after all that I wouldn't even be fishing myself?

 Ever since I first held that little bundle at the hospital, I've been waiting for this day when I could take my grandson fishing. In fact my good lady has reminded me that even before he was even born I had shipped from America a newborn size baby-grow in real tree camouflage to welcome him into this world. More of a tongue in cheek dig at his modern carp fishing father than to influence him in anyway you understand.

2 generations of invisible offspring.   

I was to take him as far as the gate that hopefully he will open and explore for himself the footpath that might lead him to whatever particular diversity of our beloved pastime he may or may not choose.
 I've often remarked that his first fishing trip should be with his Dad but he openly admits to not being particularly patient and prefers to keep his fishing as his escape from paternal duties. He might live to regret it but you can't tell these young un's anything can you? He's yet to learn himself that it's not about the pounds and ounces but rather the experiences that form our love of this pastime and nurture our reasons for why we go in the first place.

7lb 2ozs. That all important inclusion of weight!
So I began to plant seeds early on, subtly at first, to lure the inquisitive nature of youth long before a hook was baited to tempt that first fish.
I wrote a bedtime story book for him based on fishing with 'Grumps' which I was lucky enough to have published, albeit electronically on kindle. My pitiful royalties would be put aside for him in an account that we often joke that by the time he's eighteen he might have just enough for an ice cream.
I brought a magnetic fishing game that amused him through potty training and would eventually also ween him onto the loo.
Most kids love to feed the ducks and Alex is no exception, but when he observed fish competing for morsels from the murky depths he would try to shoo the ducks away to give the fish a better chance.
One day we had him he'd toddled to my shed door curiously watching me fashioning floats and so I explained what I was making, what it was for and even made a few for him to paint to amuse him during an inclement afternoon.

Camouflaged set of floats for his Dad!
He'd asked me if he could go fishing when he was two, so I gave him his first lesson, and replied 'when you are three' to instill the importance of patience and also to make sure he's doubly keen of course.

A miniature rod and reel was procured in his favorite colour purple and I'd made him a bright red and white float to resemble the character from his  popular 'Where's Wally' books to keep afterwards as a momento. Providing of course, it wasn't left in some far reaching tree to amuse other anglers spotting it!
Added to the mix was a bright blue chair which would provide me with another opportunistic free dig about his Dad's myopic obsession with camouflage  gear.
I mean come on, camouflaged bite alarms, really?

Where's Wally? Can you find him?

I packed the boot with his rod and reel, a chair and filled his little bait tub with maggots the day before. I expressed that he shouldn't be told he was going in case of the unexpected which could lead to tears and bitter disappointment. And his of course!

I picked him up in the morning about eight as usual and when he was buckled up in his seat he asked what we were doing today. I told him if he'd been good then I would take him fishing and if he caught a fish then he would get an ice lolly as a reward. I never had my camera in my hand but his expression is best relayed by the late Terry Scott...although, perhaps not quite so camp.

Did he just say Ice lolly?
I thought that an hour or two might be enough to amuse his interest and to keep him from becoming bored. Time enough for a taster and to leave with him still wanting more. It would be ample time for me to teach him the basics of baiting a swim, casting, and playing a fish. To practice the study of keeping quiet, listening and watching for birds, point out things to learn the name of would be teachings for another day. Today this was just about him, I wanted it to be about making sure above all else he has fun. And point out the dangers as well of course, like not getting too close to the water and the prophesy of an angler being the first to touch the sharp hook before the fish ever does.

When we parked on the track beside the lake I spotted a few carp idling in the shallows and pointed them out to Alex. The visions of those dark shapes mesmerized him and I hope they will stay with him in his dreams.

I set up in a small bay where small roach hide from predators and mixed a hand full of ground bait for Alex to introduce to the swim. He didn't mind being introduced to maggots and held one in the palm of his hand while it wriggled. I carefully mounted two on his hook and he was relieved to see they were still wriggling. A gentle flick plopped the float beneath the trees and I handed the rod over to Alex.

Where's Wally now?
I have to say that the concentration on his face focusing on the float was like looking at a seasoned angler who had being doing it for years. It really was a picture that will stay with me for a long  time. Another image that fortunately was caught on camera was him feeling that first fish tugging back at him.

Don't they hang on!

And so it was that history was written and memories were made. Ten perfect little roach were returned to fight another day. Words are not needed to describe the elation on the little anglers face so I'll let the pictures do the talking.

On calling time to a close I said we'd best go and see what his Nanny had been up to in our absence. He asked if I thought she might be making him a cake bless him. 'Out of the mouths of babes' eh?, a boy after my own heart. Which incidentally, unless you haven't already gathered, he already has.