Co-starring with a Fish

Contributed by Donald Walker (copyright)

You have probably gathered that I usually find some way to fish when on holiday, and this tale is no exception. One year in the 60s we took our annual holiday on the Norfolk Broads. Our finances wouldn't run to a boat so we had a week on a houseboat near Horning. This houseboat was moored in a quiet little backwater off the main water routes. Now I can certainly recommend this kind of holiday for I think you get the best of both worlds. You are on a boat but not a pokey little thing with no headroom, and you've got normal mod cons. Plus on our boat, a full size veranda overlooking the water. As well, we had our own rowing dinghy to do with as we pleased. Being moored we had no navigating or finding somewhere to tie up every night to worry about, and within half an hour of settling in I had the fishing rod out over the veranda whilst sat there in a comfy chair with a cold drink in my hand. Heaven or what!!

We caught lots of fish; it seemed to be teeming with them in our little leg of the broad. It was so good that I decided to make a short film about fishing, for posterity. Now in those days there was no such thing as camcorders, I owned a "Standard 8" cine' camera. There was no rewinding back to redo any action you didn't like; you just had to get it right first time or waste expensive film.
I did a few opening shots of the area to set the scene, and then got round to the fishing bit. This is when it dawned on me that I could run out of film just waiting for fish to come along and pull the float under. I realised I would have to fake it somehow!

After some discussion with my wife she came up with a good suggestion. Pre-catch a fish, then with the camera ready, drop the fish back into the water and just film the float going under. We caught a fish and had a few practices to get the angles right, but found that with all this messing about that the fish was too tired to pull the float down. The float was pulling unnaturally sideways which I thought would not do. So we had to let that fish go and catch another one. Of course when you want a fish you just cannot seem to catch one. Later, a few fish later actually, we caught a fish large enough to "star" in this film and we got the camera rolling. Well every thing went ok. The fish did its stuff and pulled the float down. My brother, who was co-starring with the fish, struck, and happily played the fish with some zeal. He brought it to the landing net and I finished the film with a few close-ups of captor and captured. Now here we are 40 years later and I got out that film to view it in order to jog my memory for this tale. It's still in jolly good condition and thats almost posterity.

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