Harry goes fishing
(and his tablet remains untouched)
I cast my float to the edge of the sluggish flow. The worm sank slowly and the stick float settled before trundling towards a large patch of ‘cabbages’. As it neared the outermost leaves I leaned forward, tense with anticipation. Sure enough, as the float skirted the nearest leaves it stopped and bobbed up and down before its little red top dived down. I struck. The resistance was the familiar thump of a perch and soon I was admiring its bold black stripes and orange fins. This was me, fishing when I was a young lad. I just loved it. Forty years later, I’m still fishing and today was to be a special day. I was taking my seven-year-old son Harry fishing for the first time. Springwater lakes is a commercial fishery near Lampeter in west Wales with four lakes to choose from. On arrival we went to the shop to buy a ticket and I explained the purpose of our trip. We were pointed in the direction of the small ornamental lake with a reassuring ‘you won’t have any problem getting bites in there’. To prevent boredom setting in and Harry reaching for his beloved tablet I gave him a job. I told him to throw pellets towards the edge of a small patch of lilies near the bank, a job he rather enjoyed. By the time I had set up my rod the fish were beginning to roll. Bait was a soft bloodworm pellet fished on a barbless size 16 hook, the line shotted so it sank slowly past the greedy mouths. The loosefed pellets had done their job and it took 10 seconds to get our first bite – that’s about the attention span of the average seven-year-old! The float shot under and I shouted ‘strike’. Harry gently lifted the rod but to no avail. After a quick lesson in the art of striking Harry proceeded to strike in a way which would have given any small hooked fish its first flying lesson. It’s easy to forget that casting and striking are skills that cannot be taken for granted. So today’s aim, apart from hopefully discovering the sheer joy of catching fish, would be to learn how to strike. The way things were going there would be plenty of opportunity to practise. Soon he got it right and swung in his first-ever fish – a small golden rudd. His smile said it all. After an hour or so, Harry had completely forgotten about his tablet and was now a study in concentration, leaning forward waiting for the next bite. I acted as the ‘swimfeeder’, throwing in small dollops of mashed pellet, the fish boiling on the surface with every throw. The float was constantly dipping, rising, tilting to one side or the other before sliding under. I told Harry to wait for the float to completely sink before striking, not an easy thing to do when you’re seven. After the first rudd he caught a succession of roach before the goldfish moved in. These were his favourites! Then he caught his first carp, a monster of maybe a pound and a half. The only problem was that after each fish Harry got so excited that he would jump up and down and go off on little runs up the bank. He couldn’t help himself! After three hours and countless fish we had to pack up and get home for tea. The tablet had stayed switched off and when we got home Harry asked: ‘Daddy, when are we going fishing again’?