An important moment of growing up as fishermen was the day we graduated from our spinning rods to our first fly fishing rod. The apprenticeship we followed, that is my elder brother and I, included dominating the spinning cast, playing the fish properly, landing it, killing it and then cleaning it.
One of the things that stuck in my mind forever was my father explaining that as fish, and we were then speaking of trout, were cold blooded creatures. When we caught one and held it to remove the hook, we should always have our hands wet and dripping with water from the river. The reason is that as a cold blooded animal, a dry warm hand would burn it - and the apparently small area that was affected would later gather fungi. This knowledge has always stayed with me.
In those days we released fish that were either too badly damaged or were too small. Today with catch and release, I wonder how many fishermen are aware of this?
Lesson number one: respect all creatures, big and small.
Another thing was that we were responsible of the general upkeep of all our gear - oiling the reels, taking care of the weights and sinkers and very importantly, making our own artificial lures. In short we were the keepers of our fishing tackle boxes and related paraphernalia. This was forty years ago so this meant fitting treble hooks to small wooden lures and painting them. The colors that worked for us were a green base, yellow spots and an underbelly of light blue. I have not actually seen or used these for many years but they were our trout catching secret weapon.
We used two piece bamboo rods for our spinning. In those days we hadn't heard of fiberglass rods.
Our fishing education, which we absorbed without realizing into our general formative education, was to respect and take care of our tools.
Lesson number two: respect and take care of our tools.
This meant not only the watching over but also avoiding waste and making sure that our rods, reels and all our fishing accessories lasted for all our future fishing seasons. The example was our fathers salmon fly rod. It was a beautiful rod, well kept (enormous to us compared to our spinning rods) and had belonged to his father before. Our rods had likewise been his and his brother's.
And that is quite a different point of view concerning what we see today. Quickly made, quickly discarded. Off the rack and into the waste. I sometimes think that we are living, and I am also very guilty of this, with a finger on the remote.
Philip Robinson, the author, is happily married and a father of five. He has various on line projects and you can visit his latest website on fishing tackle boxes and the wonderful world of other fishing boxes (as well as other fishing accessories). As someone with a large family he focuses on fun, creativity, making ends meet and all in a loving environment.