Sunday, 17 August 2014

"Doing the night ..."

Night fishing is a "rite of passage", a "coming of age" experience in the narrative of an angler's life. Much of my growing up was done around the club lake near Reading that my brothers and I fished in the early 80's. Back in those halcyon pre-computer game days lots of teenagers, particularly from working class or lower middle class families like ours, fished and there was a large community of young anglers. Most of the time we got on, occasionally we fought, but it was all good "life lessons" stuff, and best of all was fishing overnighters. "You doin' the night?" was the question we asked each other when we met around the lake.
A couple of days ago I "did the night" with my 13 year old son, giving him his first experience of night fishing. He's been doing well with his carp fishing of late, playing fish like a "seasoned pro", and coming on in leaps and bounds in his fishing ability, and so it was that we arrived at the lake at 5pm for a 14 hour session.
It's been a few years since I last night-fished. I had a spell of regularly doing overnighters with some carpy friends when we lived in Devon, but that was when I was in my early 30's, and now in my mid 40's I was back experiencing again what my son was now experiencing for the first time.
Night fishing is about so much more than just fishing, and certainly much more than merely catching fish. It's about watching dusk turn into darkness, and in the morning seeing darkness turn into dawn; it's about the sounds of foxes and owls calling out, of rats scuttling, of carp crashing and clooping somewhere out in the lake during the hours of pitch darkness; it's about camping, and cooking on the bankside, a whole "boy's own" adventure in an angling context.
It's about playing fish with the rod hooped and silhouetted in the moonlight, about head torches and whispered conversations, and about battles with fish that seem far more evenly balanced between hunter and quarry than they do in daylight hours when- if using the right gear- you always "fancy your chances."
This was the world I inducted my son into, and we both loved it. God willing there'll be many more such nights to come.

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