JAMES PORTER, VIA EMAIL
When we were in our early teens, my friend and I used to spend most of our weekends fishing. We used the most basic rigs, often just a hook and a few split shot, maybe a float if we were feeling adventurous. I remember inheriting a glut of well-used tackle from my grandad and feeling so fortunate to suddenly have so many fish-catching options even if it made little difference to our haul. My friend and I are now in our midthirties and have acquired careers, wives, children and inches around the waist. After nearly 20 years we have decided to go fishing together again. I collected my rod from my dad's garage and suddenly remembered something of just how nimble I used to be, how easy it was to hop over a fence, walk for miles, crouch for hours. Of course, I was physically fitter back then, but also less obstructed in other ways – my thinking was clearer. I visited my local tackle shop to buy a float and realised that I was in the wrong place for clarity of thought. I was shocked with just how much equipment was on offer. Maybe this has always been the case, but I did wonder how easy it might be to become too preoccupied with kit, particularly for a novice as I have remained. I worried that I might spend more time in the tackle shop and less time at the river's edge reminiscing with my friend – not catching fish. Strangely, the most pleasurable memories I have of fishing are those of the sheer hope and misplaced anticipation of a bite, a state of mind you need virtually no tackle for. Sadly, my grandad died last year and not only did I lose him, but more gradually through the years it seems that I lost most of the tackle he gave me. I know my grandad would not have minded because what has never been misplaced is the memory of one magical occasion when he and I went fishing – and caught nothing. But still, not for all the tackle in the world would I trade it.