Just another manic Tuesday

Fishing Lines

ONCE upon a time, this Tuesday was the most important day of my life. It was so important that I missed school, exams, interviews and work. I lost jobs, girlfriends, even (a twinge of guilt here) missed my sister's wedding. The reason was simply the date, 16 June. It was the start of the fishing season.

Coarse angling - for fish you can't eat such as roach, perch and carp - once had a closed season before the Environment Agency and commercial fish farmers tampered with it. The idea was that fish would spawn undisturbed between March and June. It also meant anglers had three idle months to stoke up their excitement at the whoppers they would catch.

At school the first part of June dragged so slowly I was convinced someone had tampered with the clocks. I cleaned every bit of tackle, even oiled my bike. In the week leading up to 16 June, I cycled daily to my chosen spot. As recommended in the fishing books, I threw in as much mashed bread as I could steal from home without being noticed.

The preceding day was an awful one. The biggest worry was: would someone have snaffled that prime spot by getting there earlier than me? To make sure, I cycled there straight after school. (In later years, the only difference was that I made the trip by car.) Generally, I was on the bankside by 8pm. Thank God, nobody there.

The magic time was midnight, but with all that anticipation, it was impossible not to cast in before that. When you are a child, the heavy hand of authority is terrifying, so I developed this cunning ruse: I turned my watch forwards 15 minutes. If caught, I could say: "No, my watch says it's gone midnight." Brilliant, or what?

But - and here's the pay-off - I never caught anything. That golden first day, the magical 16 June, was always useless. Looking back through my ill-spelt records, it's apparent I would have been far better staying in bed, and starting that year's fishing diary in July. The highlights were incidents like: "Fell in up to my waist." "Dropped torch into water." "Bitten 37 times by mosquitoes."

Even years on, I remember well the last one. It took place at Moor Lane (renamed by us Mosquito Lake), a marvellously emotive lake where giant fish splashed all night. Trouble was, it was the breeding ground for huge colonies of the giant English mosquito, famed for its ability to bite you through your socks. The following year, I took along two packets of joss-sticks in a bid to keep them away. All that happened was that I had a headache for days.

By midday on 16 June, I was usually wrecked. A night without sleep, the warm sun on your neck ... and so it was that my friend Jim woke me up saying, "Haven't you got Russian O level this afternoon?" He was right. I grabbed my tackle, jumped on my bike and cycled straight to school, arriving only 25 minutes late. As I dashed inthe scratching of pens stopped. I'm told that years later, the story of how one pupil arrived in a Parka smelling of fish, and left his tackle next to the invigilator's desk, was still doing the rounds in the masters' common-room.

But the god of fishing is a kindly god. It was another 15 June, and I was working as a junior reporter on a local paper. Taking the day off sick, I chose a tiny pond where nobody ever came. Except this particular day. I glanced up and saw, in the distance, the deputy editor. Horror. It was the sack for sure.

Except he was walking hand in hand with one of our senior reporters (a woman, for the suspicious among you). I pulled my coat round me, my hat down and stared at my float. The two strolled past. I know he saw me. He knows I saw him. And neither of us ever said a word about it.

I'll be working this Tuesday. A family, deadlines, commitments have all tied chains round my feet. The close season has been beaten and abused. In many areas, it doesn't exist. Other disciplines - trout and salmon fishing, sea fishing, big-game fishing - all make siren demands. But I still write in my diary: Start of the Fishing Season, for old times' sake.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher A specialist primary school i...

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links