John Bailey: Fun at fishery has reinforced my faith in the future of angling

Ellie, John Bailey and Luke show mixed reactions to a nice Reepham carp! Picture: John Bailey

Ellie, John Bailey and Luke show mixed reactions to a nice Reepham carp! Picture: John Bailey - Credit: Archant

Thanks to the kids, Ellie, Luke, Reece, Sasha, Joshua, Jasmine, Ethan, Austen, Henry, Rory and their respective parents.

The 2nd Reepham Scout Group taking a break from the action. Picture: John Bailey

The 2nd Reepham Scout Group taking a break from the action. Picture: John Bailey - Credit: Archant

Thanks to those who set the afternoon up, Ziggy, Andy, Neil, Sarah, Scary and Luke. And thanks Rick Broadway and all his tremendously attentive staff, too.

What I'm talking about is a gathering of the 2nd Reepham Scout Group at Reepham Fishery just last week, on a sunny mid-August afternoon. Ziggy (my neighbour but don't ask) had invited me along to participate, help and generally enjoy the proceedings and I most certainly did.

Of course, as so many of us know, Reepham Fishery is just a fabulous place for kids of any age, from eight to 80 as we will soon see.

But it was the overwhelming enthusiasm of the young, novice anglers that was so fantastic to witness.


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It was just a case of unbridled enthusiasm, total immersion in the sport of fishing. You can say what you like about kids today but I think this particular afternoon disproved most of it.

Give kids the open air, a rod in their hand, some fish to be caught and they wallow in happiness. Parents and scout leaders, too, it seemed. Fish and fun in the sun. I couldn't get enough, just like the rest of them.

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Ellie and Luke ended up with me as mentor. A big error. The problem was that Ellie and I got fixated on some serious carp feeding at our feet.

Believe me, just six inches from the bank, the lake was boiling with them, a veritable cauldron. But I just couldn't get it right. Me! At ten times Ellie's age and there she was trying to put me right and coming up with ideas that were frequently better than my own.

Okay, we didn't actually empty the peg in front of us but that, I guess, was not the point.

Bless Ellie, and Luke, too, of course. Ellie in particular was always asking the time, not that she was bored but the very opposite. She was just heartbroken at the thought of leaving.

The best thing, I think, was that both of them were absolutely riveted by the sight of the fish feeding in front of them and it's a delight that I myself relish to this day.

Above all, I certainly remember it from my own school holidays, way back. That moment at Bayfield Lake, just outside Holt, when a man lifted his keep net of tench into the morning light to show me is as vivid now as it was back at the turn of the 60s.

Those mahogany giants blew me away, as they still do today. Or the carp I saw take a piece of floating crust in the margins at Holkham Lake in August 1962.

I couldn't believe what my eyes were seeing and, even now, a carp feeding off the top inspires exactly the same awe and excitement within me. I'd like to think it will be the same for Ellie and Luke a similar number of years down the line.

All this wasn't my only pleasure in the day. Old fishing friend, Roger Harris, was also present at Reepham Fishery.

Roger has been a revered match angler in the region just about forever and he was a member of the match-men's team that thrashed us specimen hunters in a match many years ago.

Roger is now a sports photographer of note, a career that has blossomed in his more mature years. His rod is still busy, too, and he regaled me with stories of massive catches he has taken recently at Reepham Fishery.

So, there you have it, angling is a sport for life, enjoyed at both ends of life's spectrum. It really doesn't matter whether you are eight or 80, a place like Reepham Fishery can bring you alive and keep you alive.

Now, all I've got to do is work out how to catch those confounded four pound carp.

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