Tuition

Contributed by Donald Walker (copyright)

My fishing education started when I was 10 years old. Back in those days in the 50's holidays were much simpler, much easier, in fact more enjoyable. You had to make your own entertainment. The holiday itself was so different to ordinary life, that it seemed to be enough. Children were much easier to please it was such a great adventure. Nowadays if there isn't a promenade full of slot machines, Bingo round every corner and loud banging music, it's just considered a poor do. With children it was common practice to send them to stay with relatives during the summer school holidays. Indeed we looked forward to it. Living as one of the family with your cousins. So it was in 1947 I went to stay at my uncle's house in Maltby in South Yorkshire. While I was there my uncle took us all on a weeks fishing holiday to a place called Owston Ferry on the river Trent. We camped on the riverbank, camping for the first time for me. My uncle was a top class match fisherman, who was so good at it, winning practically every match he fished, he made money at it, well enough to finance his fishing hobby.

Before this holiday I had never fished with a proper fishing rod, so my tuition started from the very basic's. My uncle set me up with a rod that with hindsight was perhaps too big for me. For the next few days I fished but never caught a fish. I just didn't see the bites. At the age of 10, I didn't have the ability to concentrate well enough. I was disappointed enough to want to quit fishing for ever but my uncle persuaded me to give it another try by promising me I would catch one. This was better, the idea was he would sit beside me and tell me when to "strike". We sat there on the bank with me trying to concentrate when he suddenly shouted "Strike". I heaved the rod straight up, pulling a 3inch fish right out of the water and up over my head. The fish and float landed 12 foot high on top of a hawthorn bush. There was just no way we could get it down and it remained there as a grim reminder for the rest of the stay. That put paid to my fishing, but I wasn't too unhappy, I kept thinking of that poor fish in the tree. My uncle fished from dawn to dusk, he was relentless. I could never quite see how he knew when he had a fish on. He could look at a river and say with some confidence that there would be fish present at a particular spot and then catch them. It was many, many years before I acquired that ability.

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