Wednesday, June 21, 2006

My Life: Gone Fishin' - Beginnings, Mad Scotsman, Wet Feet and Worms

Fishing, or angling as it is more properly known by posher folk than I, was one of my main pastimes as a boy and young man. I've already mentioned how my mum bought me my first fishing rod and reel up in Keith and I pretty much caught the bug after that.

The Equipment

Armed with my new bamboo rod, wee bakelite reel, some hooks and a tin of worms, I'd be off for most of the day wandering up and down the Brandy Burn trying to catch a few trout.

It wasn't too long after that the dad got me a much better, solid fibreglass rod and a decent Daiwa fixed-spool reel and those did me good service for many years. The rod is probably still in use as I'd left it at mum and dad's some years ago and dad used it until only a few years ago when he gave it away to a friend for their son's first rod.

I really got going when my aunt and uncle gave me an ABU Suecia 352 spinning rod as a present. Now that was a serious step up in quality - hollow fibreglass, light as a feather, a lovely yellow gold colour and super sensitive. ABU, a Swedish fishing tackle maker, were one of the best rod and reel manufacturers of the time and I accumulated a few more of their products over the years. They're still on the go, after some mergers and acquisitions, and are now known as ABU Garcia but they're nowhere near as good as they once were.

Anyway, I still that ABU Suecia 352! It's three inches shorter than it should be, courtesy of a van door, but I moved all the rings to suit the new length and it's still an excellent rod for creeping around small burns.

The Quarry

Brown Trout were the main target at first as, being Scottish, we absolutely never fished for what are commonly termed "coarse" fish such as roach, perch, carp or the like. Those were seen as pretty useless since no-one ate them and only mad Englishmen seemed to bother fishing for them. Of course, being allergic to fish myself, I'd have to be categorized as a mad Scotsman since I loved going fishing and couldn't actually eat anything I brought home. Still, the fun was in getting out into the country or to the sea for the day, regardless of the weather, and I didn't much care if I came back with a bag full of fish or just an empty piece box.

What was guaranteed were a pair of sore feet, possibly wet too if I'd gone in over the top of my wellies. It was quite common to be squelching around in water-logged boots for hours and when you got them off later that night, the steam would be rising off of my poor wee wrinkled toes. I'd also have to wring the water out my big boot socks before s

The Bait

For trout bait, we'd go digging for worms the night before and we'd make up a little batch of dough as an alternative. If worms were hard to find, and that wasn't unusual, we have to buy a tub of maggots and we have to hide all of this from mum. I remember once forgetting about a tub of maggots in my bag and later getting some stick from her when we were plagued by a stream of bluebottles emanating from the end cupboard. Serious anglers kept them in the fridge to stop them pupating but we'd never have gotten away with that.

Anyway, earthworms were much better option and there are basically three kinds commonly found in the UK…

  • Lobworms - these are the most commonly found worms in ordinary soil and can be up to six or seven inches long - great for big mouthed fish like salmon but a bit on the large side for trout fishing.
  • Brandlings - these are the elite of worms, the little red and yellow banded variety found mostly in rotted manure and compost heaps. As you might guess finding either a compost heap or manure dump in Glasgow was a pretty rare occurance so brandlings were very rare indeed.
  • Redworms - now these are my favourite trout bait. They're smaller than lobworms and usually have a flat tail but they wriggle very nicely and almost always do the job. Again, they're a bit harder to find than lobworms but when you do, they're treasured.
The Locations

Aside from the Brandy Burn in Keith, most of my early fishing was done around and about Glasgow but I'll get into that later, it's getting late and bed is calling…

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