Based in Ireland in the early 2000s.
My first ever experience fishing took place over seventeen years ago. I had become obsessed with watching fishing videos on youtube and following ‘river monsters’ on TV. My father had been an avid angler since he was a boy.
He mainly fished for trout and salmon using various fly fishing techniques.
After pressuring my father for years on end he decided to take me to our local stocked lake. In Ireland and the UK it is common for a lake owner to breed ‘artificial’ rainbow trout' and stock them in a lake.
This is where the slang word ‘stocky fish’ comes from. These fish are usually kept in store tanks and fed until they reach a certain size.
They are then transported using a truck and tank and placed into the lakes using a tube or net.
The purpose of stocky lakes is simply for pleasure angling, although some stocky lakes allow you to pay to keep your catch. This seems to be cheaper than purchasing fish from the store.
To keep the catch you must harvest the fish yourself. The fish must then be cleaned. Purchasing a good fillet knife will be required to do this. Especially with trout as trot can be very difficult to cut through.
Some anglers will use methods such as bleeding fish. I recommend using a priest.
My father almost only fishes fly fishing techniques. I would be much more versatile in the techniques I use.
As fly fishing can be more challenging to master, my father thought it would be best to start fishing with a bait rod. Therefore, we gathered worms using soapy water and a shovel from our local river bank. After we had gathered the worms I was ecstatic.
We got into the car and drove a short distance to my local lake. This was a stocky lake. It had recently stocked a large amount of rainbow trout.
This lake usually only fishes fly fishing methods but children are allowed to fish a small corner of it with worms. (The reason it did not allow all techniques is that bait can go deeper into the fish throat when the fish eats it. Meaning the fish must be killed and cannot be released.)
When I got out of the car I stood in a gravel car park. Two wooden cabin huts were visible. In the centre of these two huts there was a large lake.
An island in its centre with various trees around its edges. There was a disability spot at the front of the lake and multiple posts around the lake. Posts are positions where anglers can stand and fish. We approached the cabin. My dad knew the lake owner well. They talked for some time and then we set up our rods.
My father and I walked to the spot where bait fishing was permitted. We cast out. After some time the fish took the worm. I could tell as the rod was propped behind a bench. The tip of the rod started to bend.
It then twitches repeatedly. This is a strong indication that fish are playing with the bait. Then the rod struck hard. I was thrilled. We pulled up into the fish, firmly setting the hook. I was aware at this point the fish must be harvested.
The reason being that the hook had been taken deep into the fish's stomach. Removal of the hook would have killed this fish. My father used a large priest on the 4lb fish. This fish was shortly followed by another. A priest is a small wooden hand held bait with lead filled end. It is a humane method of killing a fish.
If you do not want to harvest the fish immediately it is best to keep it within the net in the water. Our catches were measured and weighed to determine their prices. We then paid our fees and went home. After cleaning the fish they were given to my grandfather.
Shortly after this first day fishing I became obsessed. My father bought me my first fly rod and I went to a private fly fishing lesson where I caught my first ever fly caught fish. Although small, I was very happy.
After many years of fly fishing stocked lakes I started fishing for pike using dead bait. I then targeted carp. After some time I started sea fishing further developing my skills. I advise every new angler to try every form of angling as they all vary in skill levels, patience and enjoyability massively. I feel I have an unbiased opinion on fishing styles. Although, many fishermen will select one and only one.
From my first experience I learnt many valuable skills. I feel the most important skill I learnt was fishing etiquette. I realised quickly that you must respect an anglers space. If someone is fishing a certain sport it is polite to give them room before you start fishing. I also realised if the angler is right handed, stand on their left to avoid being caught in their cast.
I learn this the difficult way by getting hit on the head repeatedly. For young fisherman glasses should be worn at all times. To avoid them damaging their eyes on hooks or from long periods of sunlight. I feel it is important to mention that I was taught all fish handling techniques before going to the lake.
If I had not been advised correctly I could have been banned from the lake or worse I could have caused unnecessary harm to an animal.
by Daniel ONeill