Women, Know your place - by Andrea O'Sullivan
The recent NAC AGM in Kegworth has inspired me to write about what it’s like to be an Eeling WAG - from a woman’s perspective. It may even help some poor, unsuspecting young woman understand the etiquette of an eeling session before falling in at the deep end, so I hope it helps to bridge the male/female divide!
THE WAGS GUIDE TO EEL FISHING
1. Be prepared to walk for miles to what appears to be the arse end of nowhere, for a fish you may never get to see, and to have to carry stuff that doesn’t even belong to you.
2. Feel free to make the effort to look nice, but don’t expect it to be noticed. Even eel anglers find it quite hard to see details like that in the dark.
3. Wear comfy shoes
A) - because of the walking (see 1. above) &
B) - because he won’t stop to pick you out of the mud when your stilettos have sunk in. Again.
4. It’s fine to take a book or magazine to read as long as you don’t use a torch to read it when it gets dark. It puts the fish off.
5. Also don’t expect a conversation when it’s got dark and you can no longer see to read your book. It puts the fish off.
6. And don’t keep getting up and down to walk around and explore to stave off the boredom either. It puts the fish off.
7. So does muttering under your breath. And breathing. Apparently.
8. Whilst courting couples (& even some of those less “stuck in a rut” married types) might normally be expected to take advantage of a quiet, moonless night alone outdoors, for some nocturnal naughtiness, the eeling WAG should understand that no sane eel angler would ever contemplate leaving his rods unattended- EVER. Even if it is just for 5 minutes. Tops.
9. It may be June and the middle of summer, but this is England and it will be cold. Wear thick socks, a jumper, a fleece, a warm coat and take a sleeping bag to sit in. And another coat to be safe. Moaning about how cold you are is considered unsporting and is utterly pointless anyway.
10. When it gets dark, things will start to move about in the bushes all around you. They will make strange noises whilst they do this. Don’t panic and flash the torch about trying to see what it is and if it is trying to get you. It puts the fish off.
11. Try not to be squeamish. There will be worms, maggots and dead bait (fish) and they will smell. Trying to set the worms free when he is not looking does not go down well, as he has either ….
A) dug them up himself or
B) paid for them in cold hard cash
If he warms the maggots up in his mouth the good old-fashioned way on a cold night, simply remember not to kiss him later. Similarly if he scrapes up a rabbit or hedgehog from the road on the way there, he is not planning to give it a decent Christian burial, but has just saved a few quid on ground bait.
12. Ground bait is an important part of laying the foundations for a good nights fishing. If he comes home with 2 tins of Whiskas salmon in jelly, it does not mean you are getting a kitten together.
13. Whilst the awesome majesty of the starlit canopy, and myriad host of celestial bodies overhead may leave you speechless in wonder at God’s magnificent creation, an eel angler is more likely to be pissed off and grumpy that the stars are out and there is no cloud cover.
It puts the fish off.
14. The delicate matter of needing a wee can be handled relatively simply, as long as you are prepared to embrace nature. If it’s a short session finishing just after midnight, it’s perhaps best to practice your pelvic floor exercises and simply “hang on to it” until you get home. However, if you find yourself on an all night session, you have 2 options to consider.
Option 1) abstain from any and all liquids for 24 hours beforehand so your kidneys shrivel up to the size of a peanut.
Option 2) You will have to “go behind a bush”
There is no dignified way to do this, so here are some top tips…
A) Don’t wear anything complicated to get out of- you will be balancing in the dark, on uneven ground, in the cold so you don’t want to hang about unnecessarily.
B) Don’t wear shoes you really care about. (beware of splash back)
C) Take the torch with you. The bush or tree you decide to use for cover may well be the one that things were rustling about in earlier, so use the torch to check the coast is clear. However, please don’t flash it about like you are in a disco. It puts the fish off.
15. Never try to land an eel for him (unless you have an extremely secure relationship, broad shoulders and thick skin) The second you lay a finger on his tackle (fishing) -including the net- you are accepting sole and ultimate responsibility for the consequences of failing to land what could potentially be the eel of a lifetime- even if- and I cannot stress this strongly enough- even if HE messes up and loses the eel on the way to the net.
IT WILL BE YOUR FAULT AND HE WILL BLAME YOU FOR THE REST OF YOUR NATURAL LIFE.
Jesus will forgive you anything, but an eel angler won’t. He may say he has, but he will look on you everyday as the one person who lost his dream fish, and he will hate you with every fibre of his being and a passion you can only dream of.
16. If you are good at knots, you can show how much you care by untangling the line when it’s got in a mess. His head torch is very useful for this in the dark. However, your false nails are not. If you lose one, please don’t waste valuable torch battery time crawling around trying to find it.
It puts the fish off.
If you find nature fascinating, enjoy peace and quiet and are prepared to rough it a bit in the hope that you may just get to see one of the most fascinating, mysterious and beautiful fish God created, then the life of an eeling WAG can be very rewarding. Gargantuan shopping trips and being papped coming out of some swanky restaurant may not be part of the territory, but your photo may well appear in an eeling magazine one day- although probably not “Hello” !
All the best this season!
Andrea-(a.k.a. Mrs. Slippery Sully)
Bivvy, Curry and Bed Chair-luxury fishing- apparently my snoring put the fish off.