OK UK?: A Fishy Story...
Here Fishy, Fishy...
I love to eat fish. That’s a bit redundant actually, the sentence should read I like to eat………, fill in the blank, but nothing quite hits the spot like a nice piece of fish every now and then. I know you're thinking, well duh, the guy's from England; he was raised eating deep fried fish along with his ubiquitous chips wrapped in newspaper. Not exactly 'alert the media' type information, right?
But it is more than that. Sole meuniere done well...heaven on a plate, trout almondine, sea bass in a white sauce, you get where I'm going, I'm sure. The point is; I love to eat fish about as much as I hate to catch the dang things. Which puts me very much at odds with most of my countrymen.
Fishing, or more correctly, angling, is the number one pastime in the UK if you don't count sitting about doing nothing. The similarities, of course, have not escaped me. The difference is in the amount of equipment required. Sitting about doing nothing requires a butt, or bottom if you are English, and clothing if you do not want to get arrested. That’s it. Turn up, find a sitting type place and have at it.
Fishing requires a big multi chambered plastic chest, called a tackle box, full of fishing type equipment, like invisible string, called line. There are as many brightly colored plastic things, called lures, as one might find in the bedroom of a lady of the night. Enough lead pellets to turn an entire village stupid, and viscous little hooks that are harder to remove from your skin than fiberglass shards.
There are little plastic drawers with pliers and other sundry tools like descalers and a couple of drawers full of band-aids (plasters) for the inevitable hook and finger incidents.
Oh and a drawer or two for sandwiches. This fishing thing takes forever...
You also need a giant stick, preferably five or six of them, called rods, which are not made of bamboo anymore, being all high tech carbon fiber and fiberglass things, and a reel. This is the twirly metal thing that goes faster than a formula one car, and holds all the invisible string. It has to be made by Shimano (shout out to my friend Toyo) or it will be useless and tangly and slow...
Then you need a keep net, clothes that you don't mind smelling of fish, and a little chair to sit on.
If this seems like rather a lot to carry about, you are right. You will need a van or SUV to get to the fishing places. (Unless you live in Norfolk - you can just wait for the water to come to you)
Just sitting about is starting to look really good right about now, isn't it?
Apparently it is very important to get to the riverbank, lake or reservoir before dawn. I heard that this was because fish never sleep, so they admire anglers who appear to not sleep as well. Realistically, with so many people trying to find the magic fishing spot, there simply won't be any riverbank left by sunrise...
The odds are pretty shitty if you are a fish. Every two feet, both sides of the bank there are invisible strings hanging in the water, with a plastic thingy that, lets face it, does look pretty delicious, but buried in its inviting folds lies that pesky hook.
Now I am given to understand that piscine IQ is in the under ten range, with a memory that resets every fifteen seconds. This makes it very possible for the fish to swim two feet, bite down on the tasty dangly thing, get the hook in it's mouth, get yanked into sky and put in a keep net for a while. With catch and release, fishy is back in the water after the unexpected adventure, no worse off except for a bloody sore mouth. So fishy then swims for a couple of feet, and, ooh, tasty thing...
On a good Saturday the guys on the riverbank have all caught the same fish, and the winner is the guy who is the worst, as in exaggerated, measurer...
There are other attractions to the "sport", namely you must not talk during the fishing. You may nod at fellow anglers, but not speaking is the number one attraction for the taciturn Brit. That and the fact that wives are forbidden. You will have a thermos of hot tea, and some cold sandwiches filled with an unidentifiable substance called "paste".
I have partaken of this wondrous experience, exactly once.
It was a riverbank vigil at the crack of dawn. Dull. Actually, duller than dull, and cold and damp. Now I did not have my own tackle box to play with, but after a lesson on how to get the hook tied onto the invisible string, and the inevitable follow up lesson on how to get the hook out of your finger, there was nothing to do.
Conversation, even really, really, quiet whispering, was met by glowers from the anglers sitting a couple of feet either side of us. I tried nodding in an I-know-fish, kind of way. More glowers. Admiring the water and the greenery took up another twenty seconds or so, drinking my tea and eating the sandwiches, a minute or three. Now, all that was left was fiddling with the rods (and told to stop messing about) and watching the plastic floaty thing that was tied to the invisible string bobbing about in the water.
An hour in and I would have confessed to any crime. I was so bored that after rearranging the drawers in the tackle box (stop that!) I have to admit that I spoke from experience when I attested to the lure’s tastiness quotient earlier.
No fish were caught that day, as apparently they weren’t biting. Odd that, I didn’t know they had teeth. It would appear that fish actually suck….
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