Good things come to those who bait

As a little boy, I always dreamed of going fishing with my Dad after all the great stories he had told me about his past adventures. I used to always ask “When are we going fishing Dad?”, to which his answer would always be the same, “When you’re a bit older son.” After a few more years of asking, one day my Dad finally decided I was ready.

I remember the night before very well - not being able to sleep with excitement, thinking of all the fish that I was going to catch in the morning. At 6.00am, Dad woke me saying, “Come on. I know it’s early, but you need to get up so we can get a good spot.” It was very early, still dark in fact, but the excitement managed to get me out of bed easily enough. It was a cold wet autumn, not the sort of day you really want to be outside, but wrapped up in thermals with multiple jumpers and a waterproof cagoule, I was prepared. We loaded the car with all the kit and set off.

As we arrived at the venue the sun was almost up. I could see there were rivers, lakes and canals, but I had no clue where or what we would be fishing on. All I could think was, ‘There must be loads of fish in all this water!’ We unloaded the kit from the car, I picked up as much as I could carry and we set off to a canal not too far away. My Dad suggested this area may be easier for me to fish, as it wasn’t fast flowing like a river or as vast as a lake.

I’d only seen a few videos on fishing, so setting up a fishing rod was entirely new to me. I remember sitting there for what seemed like an eternity, waiting for my Dad to set me up and explain each step so eventually I’d learn myself.

Once set up and shown how to cast, my Dad gave me a box of maggots. “Hook one of these between the two eye-like dots and cast in.” My first thoughts were, ‘Maggots are weird and creepy.’ Even so, after a few seconds my hands where straight in - one red maggot hooked between the eyes and float cast out into the water, no problem… or so I thought.

It turns out I hadn’t put the bail arm back on the reel and the line had been stripping off creating an all mighty bird’s nest! I was completely out of my depth, so Dad came to the rescue and fixed the problem. Errors kept happening for the next few hours, until I began sorting them out myself, learning from my Dad’s fixes.

After a few cold hours of finally grasping how to fish, I could finally concentrate on fishing itself. So, maggot hooked, cast in, eyes peeled on the bright red tip on the float, feed some maggots, and wait…, wait…, eyes straining hard, just hoping for a fish to take my bait and the float to sail under.

Suddenly the float bobbed under, and STRIKE! Hoping for a fish, eyes wide, reeling in, but wait...I can’t feel a fish. It turns out I actually had nothing but a sucked red maggot.

As disappointed as I was that I’d missed the bite, Dad told me to keep trying and be patient. This routine happened a few more times, before finally my float shot under. This time I really had a fish! “I’M IN DAD!” WOW, what a feeling. My first fish. The mystery of what I’d hooked; playing the fish, feeling it pulling and trying to get away; slowly winding the line, letting the rod do its work and just hoping, watching and waiting until finally the fish broke through the murky canal waters.

“IT’S A PERCH DAD! A stripy Perch.” My heart was beating faster and faster the closer it came towards me, until finally I swung the perch out of the water and into my hand! “Watch out for the spines on his back son,” my Dad warned. With the perch now safely in my hand, I was staring at my first ever fish. I caught it. Me! - AMAZING. Although this perch was smaller than the fish of my dreams, I was still grinning from ear to ear, and at this point I knew I’d caught the fishing bug!

So that’s how my love for fishing started. 27 years on, I’ve caught a variety of species from pike and chub to tench and mirror carp, some 70 times the size of the little perch from my first ever day of fishing.

It’s a great sport and continues to amaze me. I still get that same feeling all these years later with every fish I catch. I can’t wait till my son is old enough so I can share my passion with him, just like my Dad did with me.

As one fisherman says to another, tight lines.