I recently received a copy of the latest Angling Trust newsletter, and contained within are a couple of extracts from Luke Jennings' new book Blood Knots - On Fathers, Friendship and Fishing. I really enjoyed the snippets given in the review, and it has prompted me to order it for a closer look- but the title on its own got me thinking.
Though both of my grandfathers and my father have fished at certain times in their lives, it would be an exaggeration to call them life long anglers. My grandmother told me that her father was a keen angler in his younger life as well. She related a story from the pre-war years of him coming home from a match on the same Stainforth & Keadby Canal that I fish now with a rose bowl. My great grandmother didn’t like it however, and proceeded to sell it in the family shop! I can only presume he must have won the rose bowl in a post match raffle, as if the genes he has passed down to me are anything to go by, there would be no chance of him framing on the venue!
Once I expressed an interest in fishing, it seemed to stoke the fire for my father and grandfathers to try fishing again, and both enjoyed having a dabble when they took me pleasure fishing as a young lad, with my father even joining a club with me. Their interest waned however, and when I was 16 and started taking things more seriously I knew I would have to join a bigger club and organise things independently if I wanted to fish more regularly.
It seemed like a big step at the time, but I needn’t have worried. It wasn’t long before several of the clubs older members took me under their wing, and were helping me with transport, and readily giving help and advice. One man in particular deserves a mention here, and in many respects he was like a father to me at this time in my angling career. His name is Dave Tomkinson, and he is still a very well respected angler on the Sheffield club circuit. He gave me tackle, charged me next to no petrol money, and used to take me all over on matches. He even shared his winnings with me – at a time when I didn’t win very much at all!
One particular night really sticks in my mind when I think about how much Dave did for me. I was a bit short on cash, and text Dave to say I wouldn’t be fishing one particular weekend for that reason. He texted back to say he would gladly take me and pay for everything. I had to refuse on principal, but the kindness of the gesture really touched me.
As I branched out onto the open scene I have found a similar degree of father like kindness in other people. Jon Arthur has done more for me than can be asked of any boss. Dave Harrell, Rob Perkins, Mark Wragg, Nick Speed and Stewart Lister have all also helped immensely.
Speaking to other anglers of my age it is apparent that I’m not on my own. This culture of older anglers helping young ones is common throughout fishing. Every single successful young match angler I can think of has a couple of older and wiser mentors behind them helping them on their way.
It is an aspect of the sport I love, and I look forward to having the opportunity to do for others what so many have done for me.
Blood Knots, Luke Jennings (ISBN-10: 1848873689)