Too much tackle!
When I was 11 years old my fishing tackle consisted of a 7ft glass spinning rod, an 11ft 3-piece cane float rod, an Intrepid Elite, an ex-army haversack, an 18 inch diameter landing net and an Oxo tinful of odds and sods. I also had a 36 inch wooden-poled umbrella.
With this, I successfully fished summer-long and right through the autumn and freezing-cold winters catching wildies, crucians, perch, rudd…all the usual freshwater species plus a great many pike to mid double figures. Although the tackle market at that time included a good number of specialist items, their cost and my own understanding of what an 11 year old could reasonably expect ensured contentment with what I had.
My rods were miraculous, interchangeable tools that caught fish of all species yet neither was dedicated to any particular type of fish! If I was float-fishing for crucians and found a big ol’ pike ripping into my keepnet, I’d bite off the float and terminal tackle and tie-on a spinner or scrounge a tiddler from someone up the bank. If the pike succumbed to my ploy I’d happily and quite effectively play it on my float rod without a thought for its ‘suitability’ – it was a rod! Similarly, I didn’t hesitate to remove my spinner or plug and replace it with a size 4 Model Perfect and a square of bread if carp were to be seen bullying their way through the reed-beds – it was a rod!
Incredibly, the KP Morritt’s fixed spool reel was, I found, capable of holding, releasing and retrieving nylon monofilament regardless of the species at the end of it and irrespective of its breaking-strain!
Most of my captures came aboard quite comfortably in my 18 inch landing net though it needed wielding with some skill and concentration to ensnare the lengthy pike. Believe it or not (though it is true) my cousin successfully netted a fellow angler’s fish of 27lb 12oz with that same net.
14! A great age to be!
My seat – ha! – was one of those pack-flat wire and canvas jobbies with a hook ‘n’ hole arrangement at the bottom. On this, I fished hundreds of days, and nights right through to the following day’s sunshine – or rain as the case might have been.
But then I started to grow-up and, quite naturally, I sought a little comfort in a bigger, more accommodating chair. I wanted more than a mere cheese sandwich and took to taking with me a small meths burner and a frying pan…a boiling billy…a container of water…a cup and a few items of cutlery - plus food. I bought a holdall to carry my newly-acquired rods and 42 inch tilt umbrella, then a larger back-pack to take the new reels, the bite-alarms, the tackle box, the specialist clothing, the float tube, the camera and the indispensable kitchen sink.
The upside to this is, I believe, my good health. Until I bought my first car at the age of 22 I carried that lot – and more – to and from my club lakes a mile and a half away over rough, undulating ground. How many times I subjected myself to this ordeal is incalculable but I honestly believe it built me up and laid the foundation for a healthy life thereafter. Perhaps I’ve just been lucky.
The downside is that the desire to accumulate more and more tackle has, I feel, diminished the value I place on each item. I have few things I consider ‘special’ now. I don’t oil my reels; I no longer dry or wipe-clean my rod sections before bagging them at the end of the day and I don’t shake-out the detritus from my bag because I can’t be bothered to remove the jumble of stuff it permanently houses.
I love fishing, I really do, but on a happi-ometer the needle wouldn’t even approach the level attained by my boyhood fishing - it was that good!
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