Simon Smith enters a higher plane of awareness by practicing the art of slow fishing
“Tsk” tuts Rachel, my wife. “Bloody post’s getting later all the time.” It’s true, it has gradually been clunking through the letterbox later and later over the last few years, so that we’re now lucky to get any mail before lunchtime.
Do I care? Not really. Should I? Probably, though I can’t really bring myself to ascribe much importance to such a minor facet of my life. It’s not that I’m lazy; I never have been. In fact, I’m the total opposite: always unable to sit down for too long without getting twitchy.
Unless I’m sitting on my seat box that is. That’s a whole different kettle of fish, pun most certainly intended. I don’t know what it is, but these days I can’t seem to inject much urgency into my fishing. When I’m on my way to the beach, steering wheel in hand, road peeling away under me, I can’t get there quickly enough, but that is the only time there’s ever a sense of anything remotely resembling haste around my angling habits.
If you’re against a tight schedule and need to get the gear packed quickly and launch into a departure for the beach, then I’m most definitely not your man. I like to amble around, packing the box at my leisure, taking my time over the selection of rods and reels for the session to come. Maybe I’ll re-tie a couple of favourite rigs that didn’t get replaced after the previous session; perhaps I’ll even make some last-minute additions to the bait bucket.
If you’re looking to get some practice in for a match, maximising the speed of your fishing by buzzing between multiple setups and numerous variations on baited rigs then you’re probably better off looking for an alternative fishing partner. I prefer to pore leisurely through my rig wallets, selecting my preferred setup for the next few hours. Maybe, just maybe, the only time I’ll double pat my traces is to keep my fingers moving and the blood flowing on a frosty moonlit winter whiting session.
If you want to get a feel for the latest tackle, comparing the most modern carbon rods or the newest evolution in reel design then you’d do better speaking to someone else – pouncing on the latest innovations in tackle is not really my thing. Although I’m no great user of antiquarian tackle, I do realise how I seem to be content to ramble around angling’s boondocks, content to let all those shiny new innovations and ideas slowly trickle down to me from time to time.
You see, I find life busy enough as it is. From Monday to Friday, 7am to 5:30pm I seem to be caught up in a whirligig of work and activity that spins far out of my control so that I’m left barely holding on by my fingertips, and that’s okay; things need to get done. But when evenings and weekends come around, I’m suddenly back in control. The foot gently eases of the pedal, the background stops whizzing past, coming instead to settle gradually back into focus and I lock into a gently dawdling orbit that swings me into a shallow radius around my fishing shed.
I have friends and acquaintances who have blistered their way through life on a trajectory that has carried them across the world, through to the upper echelons of career avenues and wealth lists; I know people who live in large houses, drive very expensive cars and have all the apparent trappings that today’s society holds up as admirable.
But for every one of these, I also know someone who has burnt out or seen it all end in tears, losing themselves to addiction or watching their relationship end in divorce.
There are undoubtedly endless opportunities for success and failure in equal measure, but there’s a lot to be said for aiming at nothing more than being a still point in life. Life has the ability to carry us as slowly or quickly as we wish, it’s how and when we deploy our drogue that determines what we take from it as we go. After all, even whirlpools and hurricanes have still centres.
So here I am. The weekend has arrived and the beach beckons, but I’m not leaving quite yet. I’ve pootled amongst the sinkers and reels; the bait is chosen and packed, the wellies are in the car boot and now it’s just a case of waiting for my headlamp batteries to charge. In this quiet moment I think about them: the future world champions, the innovators who’ll make a fortune off the next big thing, those hungry to fill every “unforgiving minute” with fishy thoughts and deeds and words. Good luck to them as they race off, chasing down whatever goal they’re in pursuit of this time. I’ll make my way at my own pace.
Right, what now? Time for another cuppa, perhaps?
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