Eastbourne Life with Graham Walker - Gone fishing!

The one that didn't get away!
The one that didn't get away!

“Son, son, you forgot your sandwiches” I could hear the voice shouting behind me. I was thirteen. It was three o’clock in the morning on June 16 1977. My dad was running down the road in his pyjamas with my spam and piccalilli sandwiches and a flask of tea under his arm. Like most boys of thirteeen I greeted my dad with a mix of public embarrassment and private gratitude. It’s a nice memory of dad helping me as I grew up, particularly now it’s my turn to look out for him.

For a fisherman, particularly coarser types, June 16 is a magical date as it is the first day of the fishing season. On that morning in June 1977, I was about to take an epic three ‘night bus ‘ road trip from Fulham to the pond behind the British Gas building in Staines,

My best friend’s dad worked for British Gas and he had got us passes to fish this lovely little lake for a whole season. We arrived before dawn. It was still dark and we set up our rods with a torch while chatting excitedly in whispers. Dawn broke, and the early morning mist rose off the pond and a little water snake swam up past us and into some nearby reeds.

My little peacock quill landed with a plop about ten feet from the bank and next to some lily pads. A moment later the float tap tapped and then slid underwater. I swung a handsome little perch into my hand. The sun warmed my face and even though it is more than thirty years ago, I still remember every detail that wonderful day fishing with my best friend in the sun.

That day in 1977 was probably my fishing high point. I have had countless cold and miserable and fishless days since then. But I think I may have hooked my youngest son on Monday. The real credit goes to the folks at Horam Manor Ponds. A great place to fish set in lovely countryside complete with a café and a proper loo. Even better there’s a little nursery lake there that is full of fish and a perfect place to teach an eight year old. When we left he had caught more than twenty fish included two – whopping for an eight year old – mirror carp of about a pound each. He has been beaming ever since and asking me when we can go again.

Not only did he catch some fish but he also learnt to handle them carefully in a wet cloth when returning then to the water and how to put his own maggots on the hook. My next step has to be to teach him to tackle up himself as on Monday he had caught five or six fish before I even got my float in the water!

Anglers are always happy to swap a few words of advice. It was nice to see two teenage boys stop fishing to go over and help three very young first time anglers set up their kit and catch their first few fish. It left their parents to enjoy a few moments of peace in the sunshine while these young experts shared their knowledge and passion. If you have kids and a day to spare in the summer then take them along to Horam Manor Ponds and let them have a fish while you watch from the café with a cuppa.

My resolution this year is to do more sea fishing and to catch a few more fish for the dinner table. Mackerel are relatively easy to catch in the summer months. And I like eating them particularly off the barbeque when they are just out of the sea. I’ve promised my wife some sea bass so that is my new challenge this year. I quite fancy trying my luck at some kayak fishing too.

If I set off early I’ll have to remember my own packed lunch as at eighty eight years of age my dad isn’t going to run down the road again if I forget them again.


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