How Not To Land The Big One

I was hooked on this little article on famous writers on angling from, a blog I follow (link below).

At one point in modern times, and maybe it still is, angling was the biggest participatory sport in the UK.

My own participation in it was brief and unsuccessful. I had an Uncle who owned a shop which sold anything he thought he could turn a profit on, and one day he bought a wholesale lot of short, split-cane fishing rods and boxed fishing reels preloaded with line. My mate and I bought a set each – we were about ten or eleven then – and not believing in instruction of any sort, headed for the tackle shop to buy bait, hooks and floats.

Our approach was similar to any kid’s approach to buying sweets from a sweet shop: we shopped with our eyes and asked what we could buy with the coins in our fist. We left with a pint of maggots in a plastic pot, and the most colourful of floats. We also bought mean looking catapults from the shop but with no intention of using them to disperse bait.

Over the course of several excursions, neither of us caught a thing. Whether it was hours spent by the canal, by ponds or lakes, casting near or far resulted in not one bite. But I eventually landed a fish though oddly it wasn’t hooked. Somehow it had tangled itself around the line and was secured tight. I pulled it in and it was a job getting it free. The maggot was still pierced on the hook. We let it go, as you do, just before a man on a bicycle arrived and asked to see our permits.

Permits? He was a water bailiff and it turned out we had been poaching all this time without knowing it. He sent us packing and that, I think, was the end of that little hobby.

Dead Men of Leisure on their Love of Fishing (Lit Hub)

The Incomplete Angler

Thinking a little more about it, I wonder how similar writing is to angling for a fish.

You should know the fish, your quarry, its repose, what attracts it and what it likes to eat. You bait it appropriately and when it bites, rather than haul it in, care free and rather clumsily, you play it, carefully and craftily, until it is in the net and yours.

I prefer the British way of angling where the fish is set free again, to be tempted and teased by other fisher folk at another time.

I read a story once and now I can’t remember who it was attributed to or who its subject was other than the subject was an eminent thinker. This man would often be seen at a certain lake or riverside, sitting beside a rod and tackle box. Actually, I’m not sure about the tackle box, the absence of one may have drawn the narrator to enquire about his method.

When asked if he’d caught anything, he would reply “nothing”. Then when asked whether he ought to consider changing his bait, he said he never baited his hook to avoid any possible distraction of having to deal with a bite. He simply enjoyed sitting by water, hidden in plain sight amongst fellow anglers so not arousing suspicion, and he found this peace conducive to his true purpose: thinking.

This is probably closer to my relationship with writing and blogging; not so much fishing for readers but fishing for thoughts, amongst the company of fellow bloggers.

Flash Fiction Challenge: Fishing

They were fishing for hours without a bite when a gentleman came and cut a willow switch and upon its narrow end tied some twine. Dipping the cord into the lake, he seemed then to utter a prayer and finished by removing his hat and casting a low, slow bow towards the water.

Within minutes, he landed a fish, and every five minutes another until he had six. Then he left.

After an hour, the first man rose and bowed to the water, then the second, then the third.
The gentleman, hidden away, chuckled as he watched the scene.

(99 words)

This is a flash fiction prompt for

The piece had to be exactly 99 words, no less, no more, on the topic of fishing/angling.