As an angler of more than 30 years my aim whenever I set foot on the banks of my chosen venue, as well as enjoying my surroundings, is ultimately to catch fish. The only situation that can top this would be when I assist other anglers to catch, seeing the happiness on their faces is priceless. That feeling is only intensified when the other angler is someone close to you, in this instance, my son William.
Since he was born, as all parents do, I have been teaching him life skills to build his knowledge and character such as walking, saying "please" and "thank you" and I have encouraged him to enjoy the outdoors which he has embraced with open arms. So when he turned 4 I decided it was time I introduced him to a sport I have been passionate about since I was 10 years old. Accompanied by his big cousin, Isaac, who already had a few carp under his belt having been shown the ropes by my Dad (his grandfather) last summer, we planned a trip in the school holidays.
The idea was to introduce William to float fishing for silvers which would hopefully keep him entertained, while Isaac fished 2 rods using helicopter rigs for the carp that average about 4lb. As we approached the carp park which is in the grounds of an old estate house in the Monmouthshire countryside the boys were keen to get going and William spotted horses and sheep in the adjacent field.
As I unloaded the gear from the car, myself and Isaac started to gather up the bags and rods however not to be left out William insisted on carrying something to the lake, so he was allocated with taking the unhooking mat which is nice and light. The field that leads to the lake descends a gradual slope and William had a few slips and trips on the way.
William sat still, well still for him as hes such an active child, while I rigged the rods up, I cast the carp rods out for Isaac as he isnt confident enough yet to cast close to the overhanging foliage which is often the best place for a quick bite on this venue. As I turned my attention to Williams float rod one of the bite alarms burst into life however as I was tying on a small hook to complete the float set up, by the time I picked the rod up the fish was snagged in the roots of the trees that lined the far bank. It was my own fault I forgot to set the bait runner to locked up and it was easy for the carp to take line and reach its sanctuary. I had no choice but to pull for a break and the hooklink snapped, so after replacing the hooklink and rebaiting, the rod was soon recast to the same spot, this time with the bait runner done up tight!
Isaac sat close to the carp rods as I started to teach William how to hold the float rod and on out first cast the float dipped and we pulled in a pristine rudd. I was fishing about 3 feet deep in about 5 feet of water as there were plenty of rudd up in the water and with every cast half a dozen grains of sweetcorn were flicked in around the float with a single grain on the hook. I was using the rod like a whip with enough line let out o as not to use the reel, however as boys do, William could not resist turning the reel handle when the float dipped, so since then I have bought him a fishing whip which he should find easier to use on our next trip.
So it was time to hand the rod over to William and he grasped it in both hands, with a few strikes that were a bit premature finally the float dipped and he timed a strike perfectly to meet with the rudd lips. He lifted the rod and swung in his first rudd, I took the rod as he grabbed the line and held the fish up to admire it appealing colours.
It was soon Isaacs time to shine as the same rod went into action he picked the rod up and with a few pointers on the best way to hold a rod when playing a fish and few tips on adjusting the drag he soon had the carp splashing by our bank as both myself and William netted the fish. A lovely carp about 3lb was soon on the mat and both the lads held it up for a photo before gently releasing him back to the water.
William soon got the hang of feeding sweetcorn every so often when suddenly the float shot away, not like the dozen or so rudd we had already managed this fish meant business and as Isaac was sat with William at the time they both played a small carp into the waiting net, it gave a good scrap on the light float gear and I was proud of them both for staying calm as they played the fish.
The plentiful rudd kept the boys entertained in between the carp runs and William was obviously enjoying his first fishing session the excitement at seeing another rudd take his sweetcorn never wavered and in fact asked if he could stay the night! Perhaps next time I will need to take the bivvy!
Then all of a sudden the float once more shot away with vigour and it was obvious another carp had taken the single grain of corn, Isaac called for my help as we were using light line on the float set up, I took control of the rod as William held the butt section, the carp gave us a merry run around as he dived for the wooden platform before we guided it over the waiting mesh as Isaac did the netting honours. It was beautiful carp to catch on the float and a testament to lads with keeping up the feeding all day which had obviously attracted the carp into their swim.
Soon Isaac was into his third carp, a little bigger at about 4lb and he played it away from the reeds with some side strain and his use of the drag was encouraging as he did battle with a spirited common. Again William and myself were on hand to help with the net as I placed the carp on the mat. William was impressed by its size and admired the fish as it lay there in the afternoon sun.
It was the last carp of the day, 5 in total, 3 on the helicopter rigs and an uncountable number of obliging rudd fell to the float rod. My biggest concern was keeping William entertained throughout the session however not once did he complain he was bored and hopefully this is good sign for his new found love of fishing. Every fish made his face light up and having now bought him a fishing whip I am already planning his next session. It was an enjoyable day with memories that will last a life time.