Before the lockdown

Arriving for a coarse fishing lesson I found cold, clear conditions. There had been a frost overnight and I was worried the fish would be slow to respond. In fact I caught roach straight away. In the middle of winter I think it would have been different, but with spring kicking into life the fish were becoming more active.

Spring morning by the lake

When Jessica and Jana turned up, one of the first things they learned to do was bait the hook with maggots. This required concentration at first:

Baiting the hook

They were soon both catching roach using whips (short rods with no reel):

Jessica's roach
Jana's roach

They then had to unhook them. It is important to handle fish with wet hands (warm, dry hands damage the fish by removing their protective slime), so I always have buckets of water handy:

Unhooking a roach

The disgorger is essential for extracting the hook when it is inside the fish’s mouth, out of reach of your fingers. It is best to practice first using a towel in place of a fish, as Jessica is doing here:

Using a disgorger

Once we have unhooked and admired our fish, we return it carefully to the water. A gentle lob is OK with small ones, but keep low so as not to scare any which still lurk uncaught nearby:

Returning a fish to the water

Next we had a look at how to set up a rod and reel. First we attached the reel to the rod:

Setting up rod and reel
Setting up rod and reel

Then we threaded the line through the guides:

Threading the line up the rod

Jana did a dry land exercise on how to bring in a fish (played by Jessica!) without it breaking the line:

Learning to play a fish

Then Jessica had a go. It takes time to learn how to handle a rod and reel, but these exercises at least give you an idea what to do when a large, powerful fish takes hold.

Learning to play a fish

After that we spent some time waggler fishing with the rod and reel. My pupils both got the hang of casting and controlling the line, in fairly difficult crosswind conditions, and caught a few more roach. We finished off by learning some knots:

Knot tying

By the end of the session we were basking in the first properly warm conditions this year. Unfortunately the virus lockdown started the next day and I had to postpone all my bookings. Let’s hope we can soon get back out on the banks.