The first fish I ever caught was a roach and I caught in my welly.I was 7 years old. It was a really hot summer’s day and my dad, having finished work early, thought it’d be nice to take me and my 12yr old brother Terry fishing at Dobbs Weir for a couple of hours.
First he set up Terry’s rod and off he went to the other side of the river and cast in. Then he set up my rod, the whole time going on about mind the trees, make sure you look where you’re casting, don’t get the ducks, watch out for the cygnets, he droned on and on and by the time he was handing me my rod I was already running towards Terry. I stood beside him watching what he did for a bit and it looked easy enough.
“Do ya need a hand?” he asked.
“No I’ll be all right.” I sounded a lot more sure of myself than I felt.
I put my finger over the line and lifted the rod over my shoulder, the two golden maggots were still, to my amazement, wriggling around with the hook through the middle of them.
“Karen, take your time and keep your eye on where you want the float to land!” Dad shouted over.
“Right got it.” I called out and I counted one-two-three – SPLASH!!!!
The water was freeeeezing, I jumped up and scrambled back to the bank trying to hold onto my wellies as well as my rod. It was a good three foot drop from the bank to the water and trying to stay calm wasn’t easy. It was made worse by the stench I was dredging up with each step I took. Terry was already laying on his front ready to pull me up the side and as I grabbed his hand I slipped with a bump onto my bottom. I couldn’t help but laugh now Terry was soaked and smelt nearly as bad as me.
All of a sudden I felt Dad’s hand on my arm; he grabbed hold of me and wrenched me out. I took my wellies off to pour the water out and there on the floor was a little roach flapping about. I screamed and Terry quickly gently picked it up and put it back in the river. I didn’t ask if it was all right; I didn’t want to know if I killed the first fish I ever caught.
By this time quite a crowd had drawn round us and Terry and I were in absolute hysterics. Dad was trying to check I was OK but I couldn’t talk through laughter. He looked really angry so I nudged Terry and the laughter stopped instantly. We could tell he really wanted to shout but had a crowd of about twenty people standing behind him so he politely, through gritted teeth, told us to get back to the car now.
We didn’t need telling twice, we grabbed our rods and pots of maggots and quickly headed for the car.
“Karen you’re in big trouble now, Dad didn’t even get a chance to cast his own rod in.”
For the first time I felt a wave of panic run through me. I looked across to where Dad was packing away all his stuff. I stood there for a moment wondering whether to go and say sorry now or wait until he came to the car. I went for the car option, figuring he would have a bit of time to calm down.
By the time we got back to the car we were laughing again. My wellies were squelching with every step and as the sun was drying me out the smell was getting worse. I started retching and thought I was going to be sick. This made Terry laugh even more. As soon as we got to the car I kicked my wellies off that were covered in a thick black sludge and it stank. As I turned round I saw Dad heading towards the car, his face was really stern. I ran towards him with my arms outstretched
“Sorry Dad, it was an accident, I didn’t mean to throw myself in the river I just forgot to let go of the line.” I started to cry.
Dad started jumping back from me.
“OK! OK! You’re forgiven but please don’t hug me!” He said, laughing. I suddenly stopped and looked down at myself. I was cover in black and had bits of weed stuck to me in places. I started laughing myself. Then opened my arms and headed at Dad. He started running; please Dad just a little hug to shown I’m forgiven I said with a glint in my eye, he looked horror stricken.
“I love you more than anything in the world,” he said “except when your wet, filthy and stink like a stagnant fish pond,” he laughed.
Finally forgiven we packed all the fishing gear back in the car and headed for home. For a laugh Dad tied hankies round all our mouths and noses and it did hide the smell a bit, though not completely. When we got home Mum took one look at me and sent me straight to the shower, (like I needed telling). As I was drying myself after having scrubbed myself I heard Dad laughing as he retold the story to Mum.
As I came out the bathroom Dad told me to hurry up and get dressed and meet him in the garden. I hurriedly got dressed and went to the garden where Dad was standing with my fishing rod.
“I think if you’re going to come fishing with me I need to teach you how to cast where there’s no danger of falling in any water”.
Good thinking. He showed me how to the hold the rod (no mean feat as he was right handed and I was left and neither of us could do it the same as the other). My first cast I caught four pears, from next door’s pear tree. Cast two straight over the fence to the neighbours the other side. I could cast left and right every time but couldn’t get the lead to go to the back of the garden. Dad told me for the twentieth time to look at the spot I wanted the lead to land. Bingo! It worked and I tried again. Yippee, I could cast. Now I wanted to go fishing again and when Dad came to give me a kiss goodnight he promised to take me again the next day.
More than thirty years and hundreds of fishing adventures later, this is still my favourite adventure, because I’ve loved fishing ever since.