Many years ago my father and I went fishing in Ramsey Bay in our small inflatable. It was a perfect day for it, sunny and flat.
We launched from Ramsey harbour on a rising tide, and made for the Dogmills. For bait we had lugworms, which we had dug the day before on the beach in front of the Grand Island Hotel.
We were hoping for plaice. Lug is a deadly bait for flatfish, with the additional advantage that it does not attract dogfish from miles around. Our technique was simply to drift in shallow water, bouncing the bait across the sand. The water was so clear that we could see the flatties on the bottom as we drifted over them.
Within five minutes my father had two plaice, not record-breakers but “pan size”, as he liked to say. Then the fun started.
“I can’t help noticing,” he said, “that I have got two plaice and you haven’t got any yet. I suppose you have noticed that too?”
I do not reply. It is essential, for men as for fish, not to rise to the bait. A short silence follows.
“Have you ever wondered why it’s called fishing? The point of fishing is to catch fish, isn’t it? So someone with a trained legal mind might say that I am fishing and you aren’t? What’s your take on that?” Another short silence.
“I bet you’re glad I’m here, aren’t you? I mean, if I wasn’t here you would be looking a bit silly, drifting around not fishing, wouldn’t you say?”
Then came a few hefty knocks on my line, the sure sign of a decent plaice. I got him in after a short struggle and he was a beauty. Now it is my turn.
“I can’t help noticing,” I said, “that my plaice is a lot bigger than your two. Had you noticed that?” Silence.
“I suppose someone with a trained scientific mind could estimate the weights of the fish, and confirm that mine is bigger than the two of yours put together.” Silence.
“How big would you say mine is, roughly, in pounds and ounces?”
All too soon our time is up. We have to get back to Ramsey while there is still enough water to get in the harbour. So we set off with our three plaice, in high spirits and looking forward to eating our catch for dinner.
My father died suddenly the next year, so this was the last time I went fishing with him on the Isle of Man. It was also the last time we caught plaice in Ramsey Bay.