The Time I Have Wasted Fishing

0.0028% of my life has been wasted fishing, yes WASTED. Here's a breakdown to exactly where all that time went...
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Fishing: Wasting time in a variety of forms



This is a (fisherman’s) tale of two Isaacs, or more accurately an Isaac and an Izaac. The former revealed the composition of light, explained gravity, invented the reflective telescope and gave us calculus. Newton also discussed multi-prism arrays which, nearly 300 years later, were fundamental in the development of fibre optics – particularly the type (DWDM) that are used in high levels of the communications hierarchy and which form the Internet backbone.

His Principia is generally considered to be one of the most important scientific books ever written.

Walton wrote The Compleat Angler.  In his defence he also penned biographies of a few famous people. The fact that most of his subjects happened to be keen fisherman was not a coincidence.

So, in a nutshell, Newton led a fulfilling life and during his 85 years contributed vastly to human knowledge. Walton, with 5 more years on earth, gave us a book about fishing and some jottings regarding his trout-tickling buddies.

Newton was 11 when Walton’s book was published and we can be grateful that a kindly aunt didn’t shove a copy into his Christmas stocking. We’d be living in a very different world if the young Isaac had wasted his days away inventing a sure-fire groundbait rather than fretting over binomial coefficients. You may argue that when sitting on a river bank untangling his lines he might have pre-empted string theory by several centuries. I’m doubtful, and try as I might I can’t see how he would have devised any of his Laws of Motion by fighting a tench on an 8lb line.

So, in a nutshell, Newton led a fulfilling life and during his 85 years contributed vastly to human knowledge. Walton, with 5 more years on earth, gave us a book about fishing and some jottings regarding his trout-tickling buddies.

To top it all Izaac once stated that “Angling may be said to be so like the mathematics that it can never be fully learnt.” Thank goodness Newton’s aunt was a bit mean and only gave him an apple and a piece triangular glass.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve nothing against fishing or wasting time, I’m just pointing out that fishing is a waste of time. I know because I’ve wasted precious time-wasting time with a rod in my hand, 0.0028% of my life to be precise.

1. The Lesson

My old man arranged a fishing lesson for me and my brother with the gamekeeper of a local private pool. I was looking forward to it but soon found that it was only the idea of fishing that appealed, the reality was disappointingly different. Within minutes I had a hook stuck in my finger and a lifelong aversion to the smell of maggots. I couldn’t cast for toffee and was a cold and very bored 11 yr old. The highlight was eating my sandwiches. Mick, who was 3 yrs younger, took to it like the proverbial and even caught a roach.

Time Wasted – 2 hours.


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2. The Canal

Not strictly a fishing expedition for me (I didn’t take any tackle.) I only went to the canal with Mick was because I was In Loco Parentis. My mum made me go to make sure that he didn’t fall in the cut. He fished and caught nothing. I ate my sandwiches and threw stones at a rusty bed frame.

Time Wasted – 1 hour.

3. Poaching
Jim and Eli were proper fishermen. Me and Phil were up for it. The four of us, on an Ariel Arrow and a Bantam, fetched up at the very pool where I’d had my fishing lesson 6 years earlier. Apparently the pool had been recently stocked with trout and was closed until the little blighters put on a bit more weight. This was the type of angling that appealed to me - the fish were fighting to get on the hook. With 5 rainbows on the bank and more where they came from we were spotted by the gamekeeper. We scarpered with the booty and minus Eli’s prized keepnet.

Four of the fish were cleaned, fried and eaten within the hour. Eli kept the biggest as he reckoned he could claim a prize for it at his Fishing Club. I kept the trophy in our fridge overnight (Eli didn’t have one) and took it to his house in Wolverhampton the next day. Eli’s club happened to be in Crewe and he set off on his Bantam in his attempt to get on the Roll of Honour.

That left me alone in Eli’s house with the female pen-pal he had invited to stay with him for the first time. We got along famously, so famously that I arranged to go back next day when Eli was at work. Fortunately, that night I got a phone call from Phil to say that the pen-pal had confessed our sins and that Eli would be waiting for me to arrive next day with a sledgehammer in his hand. He would have used it. I didn’t see him for many years after that.

Time wasted – ½ hour.

4. Shark
Why I thought I’d take to sea fishing beats me. It must have been the lure of landing a whopping great shark that blanked out any doubts I may have harboured. I was on a caravan holiday in Cornwall, so I had opportunity and motive. It was a beautiful morning in Looe when I waved goodbye to Jill and the boys and the boat set sail. It was going to be a scorcher and of the six of us on the boat I reckoned I was the only one appropriately dressed for the occasion, bareheaded and wearing a short-sleeved collarless shirt. Although the others were obviously seasoned anglers I thought their outfits of thick jumpers, coats and hats were a little over the top for the weather.

The fishing wasn’t too bad. No sharks of course but we all caught our fill of mackerel and whiting – evening meal sorted. The problem was the weather. The sea breeze can be quite cool, even on a hot day, and I spent most of the time sporting goose bumps. Worse was to come. As we landed on the beach and the cool wind abated the sunburn kicked in. And crikey did it kick. I knew from Jill’s face that something wasn’t right – me. Because of the tacking of the boat I’d managed to burn only the right side of my face and neck and my right arm – very badly. Jill, Owen and Pete didn’t know whether to laugh or laugh louder. I spent days in agony and have never, ever considered fishing again.

Time wasted - 10 hours.

I’m pretty sure that if I’d spent those 13 ½ hours thinking about physics rather than fish I wouldn’t have cracked the problem of cold fusion. But I am certain that I could have wasted my time more enjoyably.

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