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28/09/2018 / hbrowne4

My First Day Fishing by Robert Brazel

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Since early morning I had been watching people haul fish out of the sea at Howth pier it was now late in the day and I had caught nothing. The flapping and jumping of other peoples fish beat against the sides of  fish crates borrowed from the trawlers. I sat on a fish crate turned on its side and I had another empty one beside me. As the day passed, I got more and more frustrated and envious. It was August and I had been asking my Mam everyday since June could I go fishing to Howth pier but she  wouldn’t let me. One day I was practicing my casting in the back garden, she came out to watch and then she said I could go.This was the first time my Mam had allowed me to get the bus on my own and I was getting to use the fishing rod I had got for Christmas it was now my summer holidays from primary school. I wanted to catch and bring our favourite fish mackerel home to my Mam so as we could have it for dinner and I was the only person on the pier who had caught nothing.

The fishing rod came with a float six spinning lures and a heavy weight so the first thing I tried was to put all of them on the line. First the float then the lures with the heavy weight at the bottom. I then cast the line out as far as I could. The float sank a distance under the water. Other fishermen seeing the float under the water shouted real in son you have a fish. When I reeled in and they saw all my tackle they had a good laugh at me. My face got red and beads of sweat ran from my forehead. After a while, a man came over to me. That’s not the way you do it son he said, he put a bare hook on the line with a weight, then baited the hook with a strip of mackerel. Try now he said and smiled. Happy I sat back down on the fish crate and took out a cheese sandwich my Ma had made for me, satisfied that I would now catch a fish.

My hook was now at the bottom of the sea and all afternoon the crabs seemed to be pulling at my bait. In anger I pulled the rod up, then the line seemed to head out toward the ocean. Maybe it’s a fish I thought, the very idea thrilled me. I started to reel the line in and my small light flexible road bent in half. It must be a fish I thought. Oh my God. I reeled as quickly as I could.  The line came towards me moving in different directions and eventually up from the depths. I could see it, it was a fish, at last, at last, but hang on I could see another one. I only had one hook, but  another fish swam beside it. It even broke the surface when I pulled the hooked one out of the water. Terrified that the fish would fall off the hook, my hand shook as I ratcheted the handle of beginners reel and the fish slowly  came up. When it bounced once off the ten feet high granite harbour masonry wall as the line swung from side to side I thought I was going to lose it.  I breathed a sigh of relief when the mackerel was on dry ground, it tried to swim on the ground.  I caught it just below the gills, took the hook out of its mouth and bashed it head off the edge of the box to knock it out, blood splattered as I threw it into my crate. Quickly I put on new bait and cast my line to catch another and sat back down on my crate. It was then that I saw it. I couldn’t believe it nor could the other fishermen on the pier. The other fish circled the water below and it seemed to have been looking up at me. I’m sure it was asking me to throw its friend back in, for a second I thought that I might but then I thought that fish is for my mother’s dinner and I was keeping it. The tail of the mackerel broke the top of the water before disappearing into the depths.

I settled down on the fish crate and looked at the beautiful fish I had caught. It was a big mackerel, it shimmered all sort of colors from its oily skin. From its struggle its pink gills opened and closed trying to breath but it couldn’t. I watched it jump up and down firstly, then it just flapped its tail, then its nerves twitched before  it eventually lay still.

Robert I heard I looked behind, it was my uncle Eric who had happened to be out for a stroll. Did you catch that he asked. It’s the biggest one from all the boxes I’ve seen. I was so proud.

I only caught one but on the way home on the bus I thought about the other fish looking up at me. It must have been wanting for me to let it go.  I wondered whether it was its best friend maybe it brother or sister or wife or something, but I couldn’t.

My mother was anxious that I would get off the bus at the right stop, she had drilled me, look out for Raheny church and when you see it let one more stop pass, then ring the bell and get off and that’s exactly what I did.

So when she saw me she rushed to me and gave me a big kiss and hug. I watched as she cut the fishes head and tail off and cleaned it out, washed it dry it with paper towel and sprinkle it with flour. She told me that you did not need much oil for frying it and that eating it was very good for making strong boys even stronger.  She cooked the fish, that evening for dinner, we loved fresh mackerel and she told me it was extra tasty straight from the sea and suggested that we should share it. To her surprise i did not want any.

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One Comment

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  1. bercatliz / Sep 28 2018 10:59 am

    Love this story.

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