I practiced fishing on the street, with the owner of the shop where I bought my very first fishing rod ever. Last Friday that was. The guy taught me how to handle the reel, when to release the line, when to stop it again, and how to cast the sinker as far as possible into the sea. We had to listen carefully when we were about to cast, because any time a car could come around the corner in the narrow street, and how to aim at a car window was not part of the crash course.
So, how much more do you need to know, right? Well, a whole lot. Six things I learned:
1. You can not catch just any fish just anywhere. I went to Kuzguncuk, an Üsküdar neighbourhood by the Bosporus, to catch hamsi (anchovy) and istavrit (scad). But immediately some guys came over to tell me I had no chance whatsoever of catching those fish there, since the current was too strong.
2. Fishing is boring. At least when you let a few guys take over who do the ‘cast line in water and wait for hours’ kind of fishing. They did teach me how to use a string of hooks, and how to wrap it around a piece of bread, but the stupid waiting was not my cup of tea. So I bought the guys tea, waited with them for about forty minutes, and left.
3. Strong wind is the fisher woman’s enemy. I went to a place very close to Üsküdar harbour, where I had seen men catching hamsi and istavrit the day before. I thought I would join them and catch my own meal. I sat down, prepared the rod, walked to the water and saw that the line with ten hooks for ten fish was a totally entangled mess. I looked at it stupidly, and then a guy came to the rescue. He took the rod, removed the knot, I handed him a new line and he carefully put it right. ‘Now hold it like this, do as I do and cast your line in’. I did. And caught nothing. All the men around me, without exception, had at least one hamsi or istavrit when they reeled the line in.
4. My fishing rod is a toy. The guy who came to my rescue explained why I didn’t catch anything. ‘Your rod is a toy, go ahead and play with it a little bit’. I protested: ‘I need to eat tonight, I want to catch fish!’ Okay, he said, then this is what we do – and he took my rod, folded it and put it in the bag, prepared his own very long rod and said: ‘I cast it out and reel the line back in, you take the fish off and put them in your bucket.’ ‘Okay’, I stammered.
5. Taking fish of the hooks is a piece of cake. One and a half hours later, there were fourteen fish in my bucket. I took them off the hooks as if I wasn’t doing it for the first time. The guy’s daughter though, 8 years old, was more skilled in doing it, and I was impressed. I also reeled the line in a few times, so now I do know the feeling of seeing the line come in and seeing two fish appear. Nice!
6. Casting wide ain’t easy. After the fourteen fish, the guy took me to a slightly quieter place on the quay to give me a casting lesson. The point is, he said, the current is strong, there is a strong wind, and the fish are in the middle of the Bosporus, not by the shore. So you have to cast your line very far in order to reach the fish. But such a big rod is heavy, so you need strong arms. But you are tall, so that’s in your favour. Give it a try. I did. I didn’t see where the sinker touched the water but the guy giggled, so I reckon it wasn’t far enough. After a few times, though, it got better. But then I got so anxious to see how far the sinker went, that I forgot to close the reel. For some reason, the result was a lost sinker. ‘Did I do that? I’m sorry!’ ‘Yes you did, but it’s okay, you are learning’.
That summarizes my first fishing experience: I’m learning. And the fish tasted good. Almost as if I caught them myself.