It was probably sometime after that harsh winter of ’63 that I accompanied an uncle to ‘The Pit up the Old Lane’. My mother had drummed into me never to go there as it was bottomless and here I was; fishing! Watching my uncle’s float sit motionless in that dark water started something that was to last a lifetime. We didn’t catch anything but a fire was lit.
That fire smouldered for a long time until one day I was handed a rod at the farm while my father helped with the harvest. The pond was behind the farmhouse and on that balmy day I could see fish lazing in the sunshine. The anticipation; the hope but strongest of all: the fear!
I so wanted to catch something but the fear of that happening made my heart race and stomach churn. What if some monster pulled me into the depths? What was lurking in there? I was secretly glad I didn’t catch anything.
Perhaps a year or so rolled by. We made bows and arrows and amused the local rabbits with our efforts to nab one. The local river called and we made rods from sticks and hooks from pins. Only the round headed pins would do as they bent easily unlike the flat headed ones which snapped. We dug worms and in the process stuck the garden fork into my foot! That wasn’t going to stop me.
Those first forays were spent trying to hook a minnow from the vast summer shoals. We watched them attack the worms but they wouldn’t hang on long enough to get to touch a real live fish. One day after school we made the trip across the fields to the river again. The float drifted by a pipe outfall and bobbed, twitched, skated and disappeared. We ran across the fields to the village with treasure. A four inch perch that will never be forgotten.
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