Gone Away ~ The journal of Clive Allen in America

How Not to Fish
Some time ago, I wrote about how I attempted to catch a large fish called a barbel in a net after a rainstorm in Zimbabwe. I seem fated with fishing and my few experiences of the sport have been unsuccessful at best and disastrous on occasion.

It all began when my father bought me a rod and line for what must have been my tenth birthday. I do not recall having asked for such a present and suspect that it was all my father's idea, but the mere ownership of such a professional item of equipment fired me with enthusiasm. It was with great impatience that I awaited the first opportunity to try out my skills at angling.

At the time, we were living in Cape Town, South Africa, and a few miles away were several large lakes known as vleis (pronounced "flays"). One of these was chosen as the scene of my first attempt at catching our supper and, on the appointed day, I set off with my father, avid to begin this new pastime.

What I did not know at the time was that my father was no fisherman. Although he had spent a normal boyhood in terrorising the tadpole population of local ponds, and had a favorite tale of the time he used the toilet to house some of his captives, that was the sum total of his experience, the pressures of life ensuring that his teenage years and later were absorbed by study and work. So it was with wide-eyed inocence that I agreed to let him "show me how it's done" once we arrived at the waterside.

I will give him his due; he tried. After some fumbling, we managed to get a worm reasonably secure on the hook and then he succeeded in making a great cast of the line into the water. The little orange and white float bobbed in the waves, assuring us that our bait was enticing schools of fish towards us and we sat in the sun, enjoying the heat as it beat down upon our backs, awaiting with certainty that moment when the float must dip downwards in celebration of our success.

And so we waited. For how long we waited, I am no longer sure but suspect that it was not nearly long enough. I have seen fisherman quietly sitting on a bank for hours and our wait was much shorter than that. Our impatience had the better of us and we decided to reel in to check that the bait had not escaped; we were there to catch fish, after all, and not to rest serenely while an empty hook mocked our endeavors.

That is when things began to get a bit more complicated. In attempting to reel in, my father met with some resistance from the line. Not being a man to take no for an answer he forced the line to shore, the rod bending with the strain, until we could see the cause of the problem.

Somehow the line had managed to entangle itself with a great clump of weeds and debris, all of which was now hauled on to the bank for our inspection. It was a hopless case; so entwined and knotted had the line become that it was impossible to seperate it from its catch. After half an hour of trying, my father gave up and cut the line, leaving the rotting mass behind. Without a hook, of course, our expedition was brought to an untimely end. We departed crestfallen and defeated.

And that was the sum total of my introduction to the sport of fishing. I always meant to obtain another hook and have another try but somehow never got around to it. Fishing faded into the background and I was not to venture forth into that arena for many long years.

As a young teenager in Zimbabwe, however, the subject did come up again in conversation with a friend. My rod and reel had long since disappeared but we made do with some sticks and thread borrowed from one of our mother's sewing machines. A bent pin served as the hook. With high hopes we set off for our local river, a series of disconnected pools awaiting the rainy season, when it would become a raging torrent.

And so we fished. Unlike my previous experience, this attempt met with immediate success. We proceeded to haul ashore a seemingly inexhaustible supply of platana frogs. There may have been fish in that river but they must have been too slow to beat the frogs to the bait (a ball of rolled up bread). We became experts at removing platanas from the hook and throwing them back that day but not one fish did we see.

Now, a platana frog is not a very pleasant beast. It is large, very dark gray in color and has a slimy skin that is quite disgusting to the touch. We grew to hate the things on that hot afternoon and never renewed our attempt to catch fish thereafter.

Apart from my the previously-mentioned foray into the realms of net fishing, that is all my experience of angling. You could say that platana frogs put the last nails in the coffin of any ambitions I might have had in that direction. But it was probably for the best. After all, there are plenty of others who have braved the initial disappointments and become efficient controllers of the fish population in lakes and rivers. They do not really need my competition.


I searched the net for a photo of a platana frog and am happy to say that this angling expedition met with success in the end. It is not very clear but gives some idea of what they look like when underwater. When on land, they are much more disgusting...


Nothing for, what seems like an Age, then two at once.., The houses in the previous post echo the Gone With the Wind feeling I have for USA. They eptiomise a 'Golden' era that is a timeless echo of our own existance. (Poetic huh?) Fishing; on the other hand, is not the poetic idyll that some would have it labeled as. In a more civilised society it would be outlawed, heavy fines and jail for all who attempted a foolhardy excercise. Any fishing for 'pleasure' should be made an act of Intolerance.:If you ain't gonna eat it, don't fish for it. Surely far better to simply gaze upon a river and marvel at the wildlife that is at home there? No need to try to jon in the 'hunt'. How much would a house such as that pictured cost? I am beginning to wonder..., afc
Date Added: 16/07/2007

Gone Away
Hopefully I will be able to post more frequently on Gone Away now that the initial work on the new blogs has been done, Fractal. And, as for fishing, you can see what a poor fist I made of it! But I'm not completely against it - if guys want to sit on a river bank and use fishing as their excuse for doing very little, it's no skin off my nose. ;) Regarding the houses in New England, the pic of the two coloured houses next to each other f'rinstance - one of those would set you back in the region of $450,000. So they're not cheap but you must remember that this is a fairly densely populated area by American standards. Close enough to Boston to commute, yet without the big city atmosphere. In other parts of the States, houses are much cheaper, mainly because the land is almost empty.
Date Added: 16/07/2007

Gone Away
Hmmm, comments not taking paragraphs. Mad, HELP!!!
Date Added: 16/07/2007

I had to fish occasionally, though the rule is if you ain't going to eat it try to not to catch it. I ended up getting the most puny legal sized Bluegill in the lake and it was about the size of a chicken mcnugget when I cooked the steak. Normally the only thing I catch is a cold or sunburn
Date Added: 16/07/2007

I noticed the lack of paragraphs. I didn't like to mention it though. I still admire the site as a Whole, and to comment upon such a minor thing would be churlish. I Like the presentation of this and indeed the other. But the thing is when I tried to go to the other site, I got - "An unhandled exception was generated during the execution of the current web request. Information regarding the origin and location of the exception can be identified using the exception stack trace below." instead! (I have copied the 'exception stack' to a doc file should you be interested) Mad. Your help is certainly needed! :) afc By the way, those frogs look hideous. Yuk!
Date Added: 17/07/2007

Gone Away
LOL Your record is nearly as bad as mine, Janus. Some of us just weren't cut out to be anglers. ;) .
Date Added: 17/07/2007

Gone Away
Yes, I've notified Mad that the Insight URL isn't working - noticed it a while ago. Thanks for the heads-up, Fractal. It may be a server error or perhaps Mad nudged something when he was working on the site today. He's in the process of setting up other blogs and sometimes strange effects happen when transferring code from one to the other. Hopefully, it'll be up again very soon.
Date Added: 17/07/2007

Sorry I took a while to notice this conversation, the issue should now be fixed. Thanks for your help Fractal and your positive comments.
Date Added: 25/07/2007

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