The urge to fish is returning (it never really went away), and I’m looking forwards to blowing off the cobwebs, and getting back out on the bank with my youngest son Tommy who has kept me away from my rods for the last couple of years.
My eldest son Matthew now aged 20 still enjoys the occasional day out on the river with his dad and grandpa, but like most 20 year olds – his head is full of fashion, music, beer etc
However we can still persuade him to join us every now and then – and its always a great day for us to be all out together as a family.
It made me reflect on my own fishing beginnings.
There is a strong tradition of angling within our family especially on my fathers side.
Great great grandfathers and uncles from Ulster – all fishing mad according to family memories
A grandfather who moved to North Wales on retirement – so that he could pursue his passion for Sea Trout fishing.
My own father who has fished for as long as he can remember, and still fishes every week – whilst rapidly closing in on his 80th birthday.
And my own first fishing memories stem from family holidays to the West Coast of Ireland. Aged 3, nearly 4 being allowed to hold and play with my dads fishing kit, trips out on loughs and lakes in a rubber dinghy.
I can’t ever remember catching much (nothing changes) however I can still recall being distraught at bedtimes when my mother put me to bed, as my father was leaving the cottage to go out fishing for the evening. Then waking in the morning to help gut and clean the trout he had caught, and cook them for breakfast. Its amazing how some memories never fade. I can still touch, feel and smell those fish from that holiday cottage kitchen in my mind to this very day.
So – then for years after all I ever wanted to do – was go fishing with my dad.
Reading all copies of Anglers Mail, and my grandfathers trout magazines there was a strong burning desire inside me (which still exists today) to get out doors with some kit, and go fishing.
My dad must have realised how keen I was to join him on these fishing trips, but i think he valued his “alone time” from a young family, and the only time he ever took me fishing with him was on family holidays.I think my mum made him, in search of her own alone time !
Back at home in Manchester, my demands to be taken fishing were always rebuffed with the words “your not old enough to go fishing, you have to be 7”. His reasoning being that a 7 year old can sort out his own tangles (well some of them) and wouldnt distract him from his own fishing.
About this time in the early 70s, my parents used to do their weekly shop, in a northern suburb of Manchester called Middleton. In true 1970s style there was a big carbuncle of concrete in the centre of town, which was called the “shopping centre”. In Middleton, this grim bit of architecture was called “The Arndale”. (you can read a little of its history here – including how it was the Arndale that was resonsible for the covering and culverting of the River Irk – cost £360K)
Woolco – an offshoot of the Coop was the flagship store in the shopping centre – and for a fishing mad kid it was an amazing place. Not only was it the source of our weekly sustenance – school uniform, dodgy 1970s knitwear etc – they also had an isle which sold fishing tackle.
So rather than drag round the store after my parents, I used to stand in the fishing isle for half an hour while the folks did the shop. I touched, fingered, unwrapped and generally messed about with every bit of tackle they had for sale. And with the words of my dad in mind (your not old enough yet – I will buy you a fishing rod when your 7) I longed and longed for that day.
In the run up to my 7th birthday I carefully chose a rod, reel, fishing ruck sack and bits of kit – and made the store manager put them away in his office so that no one else would buy them.
A seven foot, brown glass fibre spinning rod, and a Mitchel 300 reel. A green canvas ruck sack with leather straps. And an assortment of peacock and crow quill floats. – 7 year old heaven.
My first fishing trip – as a true 7 year old fisherman who had is own tackle,was with my dad to Drinkwater Park Lake and we (he) used my tackle to catch 4 small gudgeon which we put in a bucket. We then drove off into the hills above Oldham to a North West Water Authority reservoir called Kitcliff – which is the central of these three large reservoirs in the Piethorn Valley
My dad baited up with the live gudgeon we had caught earlier- lip hooked it on a size 8 hook and cast it out under a small plastic (high tec kit in the 1970s) pencil float and then handed me my fishing rod.
And we sat and waited. My dad smoking ciggies to keep away the midges.
If I went back to visit that lake today, I can still show you the exact stones we sat on, while we fished.
After an hour, the float suddenly sprang to life and careered across the lakes surface,,,,,,, wait,,,,,,,,,,,,, wait,,,,,,,,,, wait,,,,,,,,,, STRIKE !!!
And a fish was on.
In true 7 year old style – i reeled in as though my life depended on it – and dragged a 12 inch (which seemed like a monster to me) brownie into my new extending, collapsible, knotted mesh landing net.
The fish was immediately dispatched against the toe of my dads welly and then wrapped in grass and paced in my fishing ruck sack. Job done, mission accomplished – a fishing fiend was born.
I’m turning 50 next year, and can remember every moment of the evening of my 7th birthday as though it was yesterday.
Over the years, I’ve taken every young member of my extended family fishing – and other than my 20 year old son Matthew, the bug has only bitten my nephew Ed, who is keen enough to have endured a couple of blank trips but still hold a level of interest.
So back to the 21st Century – as many of you know I’ve become a Dad again. Not once – but twice. Being blessed with a son Thomas (Tommy) and Daughter Katherine (Katy)
Now – Tommy who turned 3 years old in September is as keen as mustard. So I’m beginning to get the itch to take him with me.
Winter isnt the best time to take a toddler fishing so I really can’t wait for Summer 2016 when “my little pal” Fishing Fiend Jnr will be accompanying his father on some short local trips to wet a line or two
As you can imagine, all our family walks revolve round a visit to a lake, river, canal or stream – and little Diddy Duddy now calls every angler he comes across as “one of Daddys friends” – which of course many of you are.
So – look forwards to forthcoming blog posts based on visits to my local ponds, 6m whips and tiddler bashing sessions – though I have no doubt that there will be some 12oz+ monsters thrown in the mix…
And hopefully when young Tommy grows up, will be able to recall the happy times, and great days he spent out with his dad on the river bank.