Fishing Lines: The big catch is excess baggage

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The Independent Online
A TESTING little mathematics problem this week to challenge the more intellectual readers. If a suitcase weighs 8lb and a bare minimum of clothing for two weeks, along with essential toiletries, comes in at another 8lb, how is a fisherman supposed to travel to Australia and still carry enough tackle to land a 1,000lb marlin?

You will need to take into account that . . .

A large reel with gear change and braking system loaded with line weighs at least 10lb, and it is advisable to have a back-up in case of the gears' burning out.

It is no fun catching a 20lb barramundi on 130lb-class gear, so a lighter outfit is essential if the weather is unfavourable for getting to the big-fish areas.

Saltwater fly fishing is marvellously exciting, but requires a different set of equipment too.

Lures, which imitate small fish, are loaded with large hooks and always get irretrievably hooked into your clothing if left to swim in a suitcase.

The Great Barrier Reef is said to offer some of the best scuba diving in the world, so you'll need to include a mask and flippers as well as an underwater camera.

British pride is at stake. Our cricket team is touring Australia at the same time.

The luggage allowance is 20kg.

Answers to me at the Independent on Sunday, preferably within the next 10 days as I'm heading for Cairns early next month.

Sadly, the revolutionary invention I hinted at last week will be no use at all in this present dilemma. In fact, at 15.3kg the Cargo Fishing Trolley would almost gulp up my baggage allowance on its own.

Fishing trolleys to carry equipment have been around for at least 30 years.

But Powawalker, a Whitstable company, has made them far more useful by adding electrical power. At pounds 269.99 they're not cheap, but the price includes the battery and charger, while you can buy them in silver, black or green to match your mood or fishing coat. The company offers left- and right- handed models, and you can even decide whether you want to pull or push it. Don't worry if you're a slow walker; the cargo has an electronic speed control dial to match your stride. It even folds into a car boot.

What could be better for the elderly, or those fishermen who routinely face a long hike, such as matchmen or sea anglers? Those distant hotspots suddenly become just a trolley ride away, and you arrive in good health, instead of spending 20 minutes gasping for air like a goldfish without a bowl. Those who fish the more inaccessible Scottish lochs know the problem only too well. By the time you've recovered from the route march, it's time to set off home again. But with the Cargo, whole tracts of waterside are suddenly within chugging distance.

But is a motorised trolley really the answer to an unfit angler's dream?

Does it mean you can pile on all sorts of marginal equipment, secure in the knowledge that your trolley will take the strain?

Before you rush out to buy one, let me point out a few small problems.

First, trolleys are perfect for transporting large amounts of heavy equipment along smooth, flat walkways. Unfortunately, the typical riverbank is as uneven as a Lake District skyline, as muddy as a field after a ploughing competition, and invariably one inch narrower than a loaded trolley. Ivy creepers and brambles tangle in the wheels, while potholes can flip a delicately balanced barrow into the water.

Then there are the gates and stiles. One invariable rule about taking a trolley fishing is that every gate you meet will be locked. This means either unloading the trolley and repacking it, or heaving the whole lot over the gate. Can you imagine trying to do that with about 80lb of tackle and barrow seven or eight times, and again on the way back? A better name for the Cargo might be the Hernia Special.

Even if everything goes well, and you have a wide, flat path to walk along unencumbered by narrow bridges, gates, stiles and fords, what happens if the battery runs out? It's bad enough dragging a non- mechanised trolley for a couple of miles. Imagine doing that when your transportation weighs a hefty 34lb unloaded. I suppose you could carry a spare battery, but at 14lb this may not be the answer.

Powawalker, Unit 56, Joseph Wilson Industrial Estate, Whitstable, Kent CT5 3PS. Tel: 0227 266200.