Huntin' & Fishin'
Well prepared he may be, normally, but Cliff Hatton confesses that he too can have the odd "senior" moment.
Feeling and looking like a sherpa on bonus, I turned up at Brooklands Lakes, Dartford, mid-afternoon when the sun was high and hot.
Now I am one of nature’s sweaters, so I really didn't feel too inclined to walk very far to my swim wherever that may have turned out to be; however, the place was packed with carpers and not a solitary space of any size could be found around the entire perimeter of the lake. I walked, then lumbered, then staggered back and forth in the hope that somebody might show signs of packing-up, but to no avail.
Eventually, I did come across a small gapette and self-consciously lowered two hundredweight of fishing, cooking, and camping tackle to the ground. First thing was to regain my strength and equilibrium, so I laid out on the bed-chair for a smoke and a swig of something, fully expecting one or both of my very near neighbours to tell me to bog-off. But no, they tolerated the presence of a fellow Brother of the Angle, said nothing, and got on with their own business.
After ten minutes or so, I set about the mammoth task of assembling, erecting and positioning everything that was absolutely necessary for any deadly-serious overnight carp-fisherman of the 70's.... Dogged by all the usual problems encountered by the 'fashion-conscious' carp - angler, bank-sticks, Heron-heads and rod-rests were laboriously and meticulously positioned to give the correct impression....In went the jack-plugs, leads carefully wound around the bank-sticks, sounder-box hidden beneath leg-section of bedchair; head-screws adjusted, a trial 'beep' or two ...now, what's next?
Rods. Three. Sections together and checked for ring - alignment, I temporarily lay them in the rests before fitting the reels....here they are. Three. I spend at least ten minutes threading the line and affixing terminal-tackle on each before 'hooking-up' and setting about the numerous other crucial tasks known best to carp-fishermen. Landing-net together now...rest against tree.
Long night ahead, let's put the brolly-pole in...even with the Patent Hatton Brolly-Auger it's hard work in this ground, but in it eventually goes; brolly-section temporarily positioned on pole as trial run....no, pole at wrong angle. Try again...still at wrong angle. Three attempts later, angle seems O.K. Sweating and knackered, I collapse on bed-chair again for more nicotine and lukewarm orange-squash. Collapse ribs on brolly and put away. I then methodically remove all items from gargantuan haversack and segregate them into 'wanted now' and 'wanted later'. The latter group is returned whence it came. Stove...here. Water...here. Cooking-billies....there. Small torch / Avons / weigh-bag ...over there.
Food-tins next to the water-container...tin-opener on top of beans.....we're slowly getting there...right, time for another smoke and a look at the lake. I look at my watch...it's almost four o'clock ! Let's get some bait on now, actually get fishing. Now where did I put that bait container? I stand up and look around my immediate environment but can't see the distinctive yellow-lidded bait-box. .'Must've put it away in the sack?’. I rummage through the sack, feeling for the box's distinctive shape, but no, I can't feel it. I take to looking into the dark cavern but can see no deeper than the first layer of anglers' junk therein. Desperately, I methodically take out each item and place it on the ground until the bag's contents are exhausted. No bait ...no bait. No effing bait!! I'd spent an age concocting that stuff....I must've left it on the kitchen table!! What a fool!!
Mindful of my neighbours, I try to act cool, sit down.
What do I do now? Scrounge some? And if I do, it won't be my bait, and what would be in it? I just couldn't fish with another angler’s bait all night...how could I have confidence....and the shame of having to go 'on the scrounge'!
I search for alternatives but there are none: I didn't even bring a loaf of bread on this occasion. I have yet another smoke after which I conclude that I have no choice but to nonchalantly - albeit self-consciously - dissemble my creation and sheepishly slope off in the ridiculously vain hope that nobody's been watching me.
After further fruitless searches of the mind, I bite the bullet and accept that all the time, effort, petrol and expense has been a complete waste. Not daring to look either side of me at my neighbours, I slowly and methodically go about de-tackling....hooks in plastic - wallets, leads back in Stewart box, reels in pouches / rod-sections (6) back in cloth bags....dismantle the alarm-system, carefully coiling the leads and placing the Heron-heads in their foam-lined box ....Up with the rod-rests and bank-sticks....into the holdall..........
By now it's half past five and my gear is again on my back. The one remaining item to pick up is the bed-chair. I lift and fold it in one well-practiced movement AND WHAT DO I SEE?? YEEEES....THE BLOODY BAIT BOX!!!
Sheepishly lowering my gear to the ground..............
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