So the time for Little Boots’ first fishing trip drew closer. We both had rods and reels. The nipper had a small cantilever tackle box that I’d emptied from the garage where it had been full of orphaned woodscrews. The only item in it was a small pair of nail clippers for cutting line close to knots. We did however have a pair of landing net handles (though no net).

Clearly we were still in need of a fair amount of kit. Either a visit to my parents’ home to disinter my old tackle, or a major spend at the tackle shop was needed. Taking a deep breath I chose the former. I had been putting this off for a while. Partly because I was worried that I would find nothing or just junk. Allied to this was another reason that was ridiculously sentimental. It was my childhood tackle and somehow I felt like it should be left to lay undisturbed. Like a fallen warrior. It was probably the best thing I remembered from my youth.

Also to be frank I did not want to end up clearing out my parents’ shed. Eventually I gave way, partly because of curiosity, but mostly due to common sense. Why let perfectly serviceable tackle sit idle? Particularly if I was going to have to shell out cash for some items that might already be lying there.

It was difficult to know what to expect when I made the trip home. Only two things were sure, a feckless relative had borrowed a rod, reel and landing net years back. He was the sort of guy you’d never lend anything to if you wanted to see it again, and unsurprisingly that tackle was gone forever. He was also a useless sod who never cared properly for anything, so I can’t draw solace that it had gone to a home where it would be cared for.

Secondly some years ago whilst I was sorting my mother’s garden she’d asked me to look in the shed because she thought there were mice in there. I recall that I had thrown away a reel case that had been chewed. And some manky bait boxes, but I don’t recall what was left. However the shed was brick-built with a sound roof, concrete floor and a good door and so I told myself that something should be salvageable.

Despite all this prior cogitation I was not prepared for the reality of opening the shed door. I don’t think that it would have been possible to get anymore stuff in there. It took about forty minutes of dragging stuff out and putting it into piles (keep, sort, bin, tip, burn) before I came to the fishing tackle. In an old wicker box barely holding itself together I found a few reels and a couple of plastic boxes containing far less than I remember, but several individual items that I recalled and some I’d forgotten. There were no rods, rests or bank sticks, perhaps they were at the very back of the shed, I wondered whilst at the same time knowing they were long gone. It was clear that this job was going to take some time (I have since made 2 more trips and the job’s still far from done). So I put the tackle in the car along with a load of junk that I was going to get rid of, and returned the stuff that was being kept to the shed.

My Old Man came out as I was dragging a load of crap down to the car. He’s lost the plot these days, following a stroke.

I had a cardboard box under one arm and a reel in the opposite hand. “Little Boots wants to go fishing,” I told him. I talked briefly about the first time he took me fishing. I have little memory of that. He has none.

By the time I returned he was sat on the front doorstep with a large plastic tackle box. “You can have this if you want,” he said. “There’s a few bits and pieces in here“. He opened it and proceeded to show me the contents.

Despite the size of the box it was slim pickings and I judged from the contents that it was not something he’d put together because there were things like baiting needles and bits of carp gear that he’d never use.

He was in truth a pretty ropey angler. Probably the box was something he’d picked up during the period when he was a driver for Age Concern and was always bringing various pieces of tat home.

“And there’s this old sea fishing reel,” he said unzipping a reel case bearing the name of a long-gone local tackle shop.

“That’s not a sea fishing reel,” I told him. “That’s an old Abu Cardinal, that was a bloody good reel in it’s day. People still rate them.”

“It’s a big old thing for freshwater,” he frowned, and I knew that my attitude had come from the same place – big reel = small penis. It was the same expression he had every time he saw a boy racer in a small car with a big exhaust driving like an arse because he thought he was Paddy Hopkirk, James Hunt or Nigel Mansell. As a mechanic, his life had been plagued by softheaded plonkers who knew as little about motors as they did about driving.

I finished packing the car and went back up to the house to say goodbye and he’d gone back inside and had beside him a holey landing and keep-net.

“Here’s some more”.

He had no fishing rod or landing-net pole or bank-stick for the keep net.

This was all a fantasy I told myself driving home. A load of things he’d got together planning to go fishing one day but never had. Going to the pub always got in the way.

Later back home when I was picking through the box, there was in the bottom, along with scraps of line bearing hooks and shot, a crumpled foil packet of the Old Man’s favourite baccy.

Perhaps he had been fishing after all.

Whatever the case, a torch has been passed on.

Note – you may have spotted from my post on 30/8/11 that we have been fishing. That post was more or less made in real-time and is out of sequence with this one and others I have drafted about our first trip and the build up.

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