Dan O’Neill’s apprentice starts his journey as an angling guide…
Many of you who know me will know how I began my guiding career. For those of you who don’t I will touch briefly on it. I started a job as a linen porter in Mount Juliet house when I was 13/14. When walking up the stairs from the basement I found a fly caught in the carpet of the bottom step. Taking out the fly I walked to the fishing room where a man called Matt Bolger sat. Matt was the fishery manager at the time, which was a job I had only read about in magazines back then. Showing Matt the fly, he was interested how I had come to identify it as a Bloody Butcher. The Bloody Butcher was the fly I had caught my first trout on many years earlier. Explaining this to Matt, he thanked me and on my way I went. It was one evening when I had finished that I met Matt just at the front of the house looking somewhat stressed. A ghillie had let him down and the client was waiting in the fishing room. Wanting to help I offered my services and away I went to begin what is a wonderful journey of meeting new people, assisting people catch their first fish and introducing them to some of the best listeners in the world that live in our forests, surround our rivers and indeed live in our rivers.
The countryside can take a lot of weight off our shoulders when we know how to allow it to. This is better when people are given the chance to realise it for themselves and it’s not pushed or forced on them. With guiding I try to put people in that position and sow the seed for them to grow it in their own minds and realise fishing and the outdoors has a lot to offer.
I took this approach with Anthony. I allowed him to make up his own mind. I took him guiding with me on the coarse lakes to let him fish or watch me as I guided for my clients. He would pick up little tips and hear how I dealt with people. Kids can be very good at tricking us adults but once we know when they are listening even though they are pretending not to we can use this to our advantage which is what I did when Anthony was nearby. He heard everything and retained some. When we fish I sometimes see he got in a knot or caught a tree (as I still do and quite regularly). I would leave him be and play his role of pretending not to see. He would then eventually figure it out or give up and call Dad.
So, this week Anthony had asked could we take a friend of his fishing. “Yes of course, no problem,” I answered, “but you’re guiding for him. I am the driver, photographer, netsman, food coordinator, safety officer and driver.” Anthony looked, smiled and then realised I was serious.
Our choice for the day was a small carp pond just outside Carlow. Anthony was watching Fish with Carl on YouTube most of the evening before for some tips. He knew what he had to know to get his friend his first fish. When the next day arrived, Anthony set up two rods. One for his guest and a second one as a spare for his guest which I was happy about as I thought it was for Anthony himself. This is something I do as it maximises the persons fishing time if they do get knotted or tangled up.
Arriving at the pond Anthony was now in charge. Anthony walked the pond describing what Aun should look out for when picking a spot. Once they had settled on a spot Anthony knew to plumb the area to see what kind of depth was there. Finding the bottom he then put a maggot on and showed Aun how to make a cast. Handing Aun the rod and explaining what a bite looked like it wasn’t long before he hit his first small carp. Many small carp followed but eventually Aun lifted into something different. The fish splashed and made strong runs as they were using light gear. As the fish came over the net I could see the relief on Anthony’s face and I knew how he felt. I was very happy for Aun and Anthony also, he got a feeling of what it’s like to guide someone to their first fish. A superb feeling that brings the story of your first fish back to life.
Well Done Aun and Anthony.
You’ll have to wait a few more years until you can book Anthony, so in the meantime you’ll have to make do with his dad, Dan.