Fishing in childhood
29 June 2020
Dad would take us fishing by the canal bank off Nottingham Road. The three of us, myself and my two sisters. Mum would never join us in those days, she hated the canal and would have preferred us all to go to the park.
Three nets and a jam jar with string tied around the neck. After all, you had to take your catch home.
For some time we would stand gazing into the water in the hopes of spotting a stickleback. Later, a more effective method evolved, namely running the net along the concrete bank – a sort of trawling – which tended to work better.
How to Catch a Fish
You might catch a fish if you hold your breath,
don’t talk, whistle or sing, you will scare it away.
They like to lurk in the deep, dark places
and also to bask in the sun-dappled shallows,
especially if there are other fish to play with.
Don’t move quickly, you will scare them away.
Just hover, your feet planted firmly apart,
moving the net slowly and ever so gently
like the wavering river weed where it might hide.
Don’t dart after it and stir up the mud
from the bottom in a cloud
so you can’t see the fish.
They will all swim away.
Maybe it’s not the day
to catch a fish.
And there will be trouble
if you should fall in.
They called it ‘Fisherman’s Rest’ they did,
An old bridge crossing a stream.
The stream was great as a tiddlers’ place,
But nothing as big as a bream.
In the summer hols we would wander down,
Terry and Ernie, Buster and me,
Carrying nets and a jam jar or two,
‘Cos fishing there for us was free.
Leaving shoes and socks on the river bank,
And with water up to our knees,
We would stand for ages, nets in our hands,
Never worrying if we might freeze.
Now and again a fish would be caught,
A stickleback slower than most,
Would land in the net, be transferred to a jar,
It’s catcher with a moment to boast.
End of the day we would put the fish back,
They weren’t big enough for us to eat.
And anyway fun was the name of the game,
We’d come back any time we could meet.