While I was waiting for my club membership to come through I thought that I had better update myself on modern methods of fishing and spent hours looking online. One of the best resources was Youtube although sometimes different anglers would say different things about the same subject, which was a bit confusing! Then I found Carl and Alex, for those of you who don’t know them they are a couple of brothers who have been uploading videos since they were kids. They are now young men with a wide range of fishing interests and a good presentation style and I found them easy to watch and learnt a lot.
I also had to find a swim to fish on the canal. Being summer a lot of the banks were overgrown and it was impossible to get to the water but there were a couple of places that were obviously used by anglers as the vegetation was trampled down and there were discarded drink cans, hook packets etc lying around. One of them was opposite another short branch of the canal and made an interesting spot. I decided that I would fish there.
Come the morning of my first fishing trip in years I was nervous. I had read up on it and watched loads of videos but it was all theory, could I really cut it in the real world? I loaded up all my stuff on an old sack barrow and walked down to the canal. I must have looked quite a sight walking through residential streets but hey, that’s another thing about being in the third age, things like that don’t bother you too much!
I arrived at the swim and started to set up my rods. I had decided to float fish with one rod and feeder fish with the other so doubling my chances of catching anything! At this stage I wasn’t sure that I would catch anything at all! I threaded the feeder rod, tied on the feeder and hook length, filled the feeder, baited the hook and got ready to make my first cast. Looking up at the rod I saw that when threading the line I had missed a ring and somehow twisted the line around the rod so I had to do it all over again! They say that you learn from your mistakes but this wasn’t the last time I made that particular mistake although I eventually learnt to be more careful when tackling up. So, a short underhand cast into the canal near some reeds and I was fishing, throw in some groundbait and then it was time for a sit down on my old picnic chair and a short rest before tackling up the float rod.
That went OK and I was getting back the feeling of being on the bank and being a proper fisherman, all I had to do was to catch a fish! Then it happened, the quiver tip bent round, I picked up the rod and was into a fish, only a small one but a fish, it was about the size of my hand and as I held it for a photo it flipped out of my hand and dropped to the floor where it flapped around a bit before I could capture and photograph it. Quickly popping it back into the water I texted the photo to my wife as proof that I was a real angler!
And that was all that I caught on the feeder rod that day but I did have more success with the float, close in I was catching small, and I mean small, roach. They would even take an unbaited hook on its way to the bottom. Catching anything was a novelty so I kept on with that until it became boring then cast out a bit further hoping for a better fish. Nothing much happened for a while but it was nice being on the bank. I poured a cuppa from the flask and had a snack, watched the swans and their cygnets glide past, heard the moorhens splashing and quacking in the reeds and said hello to the occasional kayaker and paddleboarder who passed by. Then the float dipped and I was into a fish. This one was different, the line was shaking and tugging but I was able to reel it in and saw it was an eel about a foot long! Many years ago when I was a lad I had gone fishing a bit further up the canal and caught an eel which squirmed around and I didn’t like it. I still am not very fond of them but brought this one to the bank, wrestled with it to extract the hook and quickly put it back. I cast out again and was thinking about the eel when the float dipped again and I was into another fish, another eel! I was quite pleased that it slipped off the hook before I could land it but was not so pleased later when I caught another one! Three eels in twenty minutes and I had read that they were getting rare. Either that or it was the same eel three times!
I decided then that I had enough of catching eels and packed up. So, what had I learnt? That I could put my tackle together and catch fish although if it was just going to be eels I wasn’t sure if I wanted to. Apart from the eels they were all small but for a first try it wasn’t too bad, at least I had caught something although it was clear to me that I still had a lot to learn!