Jolly Boating Weather – Part 3
The weather brightened up a bit as the first day of the family holiday wore on and the countryside slid slowly by. Fields, trees, villages, sheep, cows, ‘Ohhhs’ and ‘Ahhhs’ from Damien’s family greeted whatever view that presented itself around the next bend. Relief from all this excitement finally came late in the afternoon when they moored up for the day
No sooner had they banged in the pegs and tied up than Damien was getting out his fishing tackle. In pride of place was a new 17′ ‘Bolognese’ rod specially bought for the trip. Donald, of course, couldn’t resist a little dig and insisted on calling it a ‘Spaghetti Stick’, much to Damien’s annoyance.
Damien’s mum sent the ‘boys’ off to do a bit of fishing for an hour or two while the girls got dinner ready. Damien, armed with stuffed rod quiver and groaning tackle box on trolley, set off looking for a likely swim, and had Donald ambling along behind, his pipe sending up smoke signals and with only a tatty old rod bag over his shoulder. Damien was convinced that the old git had forgotten half his tackle, but he wasn’t about to remind him of the fact.
Some seventy yards form the boat they came across a cattle drink, Damien set up on side and Donald wandered off to the other, some 20 yards further downstream. Damien was a flurry of activity, rods, rests, reels, tackle, bait, nets, the whole lot was pretty soon out of boxes and bags and strewn everywhere while he set up.
During this frantic activity to get fishing he glanced across at Donald and was stopped in his tracks. The old boy had taken off his shoes and socks and was carefully rolling his trousers up past his knees. Damien just shook his head when Donald slowly waded into the cattle drink and started paddling around.
“Forgot that you can’t walk on water then? If you want to fish on the other side, you’d be better of walking down to the next bridge,” quipped Damien.
“No need for that laddie, I’m just doin’ a bit of ground baitin’, as yer might say. Showed them Taylor boys how to do this for their tench fishing, don’t yer know.” Said Donald.
“Nope,” said Damien. Don’t know and don’t want to know, he thought. He had some new gear and was anxious to use it. He was just pondering whether to use his new rod at fifteen or seventeen feet when out of he corner of his eye he saw Donald trying to scramble out of the river.
The old boy was clutching at the now damp grass on the bankside and to Damien’s eye was doing a very good impression of an upturned woodlouse trying to right itself.
Suppose I should do the right thing he mused as he turned towards Donald. He got off his box and removed the extension from his rod; I’ll fish it at fifteen feet he thought, sitting back on his box.
Donald had by now managed to scramble up the bank by himself and between wheezes he shouted somewhat sarcastically across to Damien that he was all right and he didn’t need a hand, thanks.
“Good!” Came back the terse reply from Damien, as he got underway with some serious fishing. But he couldn’t help glancing over at Donald, who’s behaviour was interesting, to say the least. Firstly he was sat on his jacket, right at the water’s edge, swinging his thin, pale, but intricately veined, legs in the breeze, presumably to dry them off.
“You want to put them away or you might get a worm popped in your mouth,” said Damien. “Some passing bird will think you’re one of its chicks that’s fallen out of its nest.”
Donald paid no attention as he first rummaged around in his coat pockets and lifted out two cricket ball sized objects. He then pulled what appeared to be an assortment of blackened pea sticks from the rod bag. Damien was trying hard to concentrate on his fishing, but curiosity got the better of him.
“Ok, I give up,” he said. “What are you doing with that bunch of twigs, going to knit yourself a raft or something?”
“No laddie,” came the reply. “This here’s a proper roach pole, eighteen feet of tempered bamboo, I think it’s a Sowerbutt, just the job for a spot of paste fishing.”
With that he pulled something off one of the cricket balls, squeezed it onto the hook, pushed three more sections of the pole together and delicately dropped his tackle onto the edge of the water he had stirred up in the cattle drink.
“Did you say Sour Butt, Sour Puss or Sore Butt?” chortled Damien, “Either of those just about sums up your rear end, but I don’t see what they’ve got to do with fishing.”
“Sowerbutt, I said laddie.” Replied Donald, then he spelt it out, “S-O-W-E-R-B-U-T-T. A proper piece of English tackle, not like that Far East noodle stick you’ve got hold of.”
“Bolognese!” Replied Damien. “B-O-L-O…”
“Now, now, no need to swear laddie.” Donald interrupted, with a gleam in his eye.
Damien let out a long sigh and got back to his fishing. He was using pellets as his spoilsport parents wouldn’t allow him to bring maggots on board the boat. He had got quite a rhythm going: cast, feed, watch the float like a hawk, not a twitch, retrieve, check bait, re-cast, feed, etc, etc.
After an hour of this he decided to go and see what Donald was doing differently, as the old boy had been picking up a few fish, nothing big, the odd gudgeon and small roach, but at least he was catching.
Damien sat down behind Donald and watched as the old boy expertly shipped and unshipped the sections of the antique pole, the quill float landing silently on the water, then slowly sitting upright as it lazily made it was past the edge of the cattle drink. The merest movement of the float and with a flick of the wrist another small roach was wriggling its way towards Donald’s outstretched hand.
Donald slipped the fish back and was about to re-bait when Damien asked just what he was using. The unwrapped ball was poked under his nose and Damien recoiled at the smell.
“What the **** is that?!” he exclaimed.
“Cheese paste,” came the reply from Donald as he re-cast. “I made this a couple of weeks ago, not sure its quite matured enough yet but it seems to work. Got aniseed paste in the other ball, would you like a sniff of that too?”
“Err, thanks, but no thanks.” Replied Damien, getting up to go back to his swim, his eyes still watering from the almost toxic smell of the cheese paste.
Just then there was a flurry of activity from Donald as something much bigger had taken a liking to the paste and the old roach pole was hooped right over and was starting to creak.
“I think it’s a bream laddie, I wasn’t expecting that. Have you got yer net?”
“I’ll just amble over and get it for you Uncle, shall? Although I’m surprised you didn’t bring old Dick Walker’s landing net along as you reckon you always catch bigger fish than me,” said Damien, just ever so slightly sarcastically.
“Just pluddie hurry up laddie, I wasn’t expecting anything this big and I can’t hold it much longer,” hissed Donald, through teeth clamped firmly on his pipe stem.
Damien was back at his swim; he reached over his box, grabbed the net and turned round to hear an ominous ‘Snap!’ He lifted up his foot to see the extension piece of his new rod in two neat halves.
“Oh bollocks, that’s just great,” he muttered, but Donald was still just about attached to his fish so Damien skulked over with the net. It was a bream of around five pounds and Damien soon scooped it up.
Donald laid the bream on the grass to unhook it and then after an admiring glance, gently returned it to the water. Rubbing his hands together he said, “Right-oh, I reckon that’s enough for one day. Time to pack up and head home for tea, laddie.”
“Too bloody right,” said Damien. “Another crap fishing session, I’ve blanked and managed to break my new rod all because of you. Every bloody time I go fis…..”
Damien’s rant was cut short. He had snatched up the net and started to march off towards his swim, but had stood in the bream slime on the damp grass and executed a neat somersault as he went head first into the cattle drink.
“Are you doing a bit of pre-baiting for tomorrow laddie?” Donald enquired, somewhat mischievously of the now soaking wet and mud splattered Damien. “And do you want a hand to get out, or can you manage that all by yourself?”
Damien’s reply wasn’t comprehensible, being as it was accompanied by much spluttering as he spat out a good lungful of water and mud. He hauled himself out of the river, leaving a trail of water and slime behind him. Donald watched as he went back to his swim and slung rods and rests into their bags and slammed lids on boxes.
It didn’t make Damien’s mood any better when he heard a low, whining noise that he could have sworn was to the tune of ‘Gone Fishing’ and then realised it was Donald breaking wind.
The pair of them returned to the boat in silence, although Donald nearly bit through his pipe stem trying desperately hard not to laugh behind Damien’s back. When they arrived at the boat, Damien was made to stand on the bank and he had to get changed behind a towel. He was then instructed to have a shower before he could sit down to dinner.
“Oh great, by the time I’m finished, my dinner will be cold,” he whined. “No problem,” said his mum. I’ll just pop your dinner in the microwave while you freshen up.”
Damien was just about to get in the shower when his mum called out, “How many minutes do you think I should zap this ham salad for?”
Ha, bloody, ha, thought Damien, as he could hear the rest of the family giggling away. Rabbit food was not what he had in mind when he was told the trip was ‘all inclusive’ On top of that, he’d broken his new rod on its first outing and been for a swim in God knows what, all because of that old git. He would just have to get his own back somehow….
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