FAMILY COLUMN: Getting the kids hooked on the joys of fishing
In this day of smartphones, tablets, PCs, games consoles and big tellies, they reckon traditional pastimes will soon be a thing of the past.
Kids these days are more bothered about swapping messages with their mates on Instagram than actually seeing the great outdoors and what it has to offer.
Which is why when my father-in-law, a keen angler offered up his services on a recent Sunday to teach my two lads the joys of fishing, I jumped at the chance.
I’m not a fisherman and no-one in my family ever has been, so the world of hooks, lines and sinkers was as alien to me as it was to the lads and I stood blindly and idly by the side of the lake as the long task of setting up got underway.
Now don’t get me wrong, the lads have never been afraid of getting out and about outside and getting their lungs full of air. They love days at the beach, both are keen footballers and they’ve both been on outward bound type courses and activities over the years.
But fishing was the one that got away. How would they cope with a tub full of wriggling maggots and having to spear them onto hooks? Would they be OK at handling squirming and slimy fish out of water?
Would I end up having to dive into the murky waters to pluck them to safety after being hauled off the bank after a struggle with a particularly lively carp?
As it was, I needn’t have worried. Neither were fazed by the nitty gritty bits of angling that would make some squeamish and both were keen to learn and pick up tips and tricks from a man who has spent many hours of his life sitting by the side of riverbanks, whiling away the hours.
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Mind, any thoughts of me quietly sitting in the sun enjoying the tranquility and solitude while they caught a fish supper, quickly evaporated, spending most of the five or so hours we were there helping to untangle lines, rescuing hooks from the reeds or simply rushing from one peg to the other with nets, reels and whatever other accessory was needed.
And the less said about the tiddler that wriggled off the hook, onto the grass and then slipped onto the dry landing beneath the peg, the better. Ahem.
I knew from the outset that enjoyment levels would largely be governed by how many fish were caught (and put back, before anyone takes issue) and this proved to be the case.
My youngest was more successful, landing a couple of decent catches, couple with a few smaller fish (which we didn’t fry).
My eldest was less lucky, taking only a few catches - the rest of the time was spent staring intently at a float and waiting for it to bob. But when he did get a bite, invariably, it turned out to be a bit of a whopper.
Driving away at the end of the day, I asked them both if they’d do it again.
“Yes,” they replied. And while they might not be appearing on any episodes of Extreme Fishing with Robson Green anytime soon, the fact they gave it a go, were prepared to listen and learn and try their hand at something new is good enough for me.