First forays into fishing

My introduction to fishing was joyous. I was born on a farm and from a very early age most Sunday afternoons my father would take my sister and I trout fishing in the stream that acted as one of the boundaries of our farm. First up was the ‘tick’ shaped branch Daddy would cut from a tree enabling us to slot the caught trout onto and which made for safe-keeping as we carried the fish home. Our rods were also skilfully man-made. My father was an excellent fisherman. He taught us the movements of the water and where the fish would linger. I can close my eyes now and see the afternoon sun play on the stream and the trees on either side bending inwards and touching one another mid-point. Also vivid memories of clumps of bright yellow primroses on the banks of the stream come flooding back. We would always catch over ten fish but before we got to twenty we would always return home for a supper time treat. It was an idyllic time.

My introduction to sea fishing was less than idyllic. It was in San Francisco bay and it was a 4.30 am Sunday morning start. We were three friends from London Business School engaged in summer work experience and we thought it would be a great idea to do a spot of sea fishing one weekend. On the boat there must have been about forty of us in total. I believe I was the only female member on board. The fishermen, all donned in appropriate gear were all very serious and from memory, it had been quite an expense booking our place as we were going salmon fishing. The locals took up their key preferred positions in haste, leaving three forlorn places at the back of the boat.

It did not start well. No sooner had we left the quay the swell of the sea was quite something. Both my friends were sea sick. One extremely ill and was taken inside and there ended his fishing journey. As I recall it had been his idea. The other just sank to the floor and I managed to tie the rod to his hand as he sat there, feeling awful. This left me standing on my own. The look and sneers had commenced from our fellow fishermen. We had looked like tourists and now we were condemned as tourists.

As we sailed back into San Fransisco only three salmon had been caught – whether the prevailing weather conditions had played its part I know not. All I could see were very angry faces. My slumped friend had caught one without even getting up from the deck as I had to help to reel in the fish into the boat. I had caught two massive salmon. Sadly he had not been able to afford the same courtesy to me as he couldn’t move and there were no volunteers from the rest on board. I shall never forget battling to land these. I mean massive, I could not carry one salmon off the boat let alone two! My flatmate, who fortunately was waiting with her car at the quayside, and I ate salmon the entire summer!

The razor-toothed tiger fish is pound-for-pound one of the world's most powerful freshwater species.

And finally to my first river and lake fishing – where else but the mighty Zambezi and Lake Kariba in Zimbabwe. My then boyfriend, now husband took me fishing there. We have been many times since. The sheer joy encountered by all when catching the prized Tiger Fish. I would not go as far as to say it is the most relaxing of sports for those who don’t appreciate lurking hippos and crocodiles but if you can forget about the death threat then the scenery of both the sun rising and setting is so beautiful and at such times very relaxing!

In more recent years I have been very fortunate to have the opportunity to spend many a holiday camping with friends in Tuolumne Meadows. We experience long sunny days breathing in crisp mountain air and enjoying both swimming and catching trout in the Tuolumne river. I long to be back there.