My red box of memories

Not so much a red box of memories as a black and grey box of memories. The old fishing box that my brother and I used in Brazil has been sitting in my parent’s loft for a while now, so I thought I’d dig it out and have a look through it. I was tempted to give it a clean, but I rather like that it’s still covered in dirt that’s come straight from the banks of the Araguaia river. It’s like having a little bit of Brazil right here in the house.  And when my wife suggested I throw away the empty bottle of Autan …. Not a chance! The bottle even still has that evocative aroma, like cheap aftershave. It’s a smell that will always remind me of fishing in Brazil. Anyway, I thought I’d take a few photos and put them up here for people to look at. You can click on the pictures for a better look and a brief explanation.

When we went fishing, we didn’t take rods with us, we just used reels and hunks of wood to wind our line around. Obviously it could hurt your fingers a bit when you’re trying to land a fish that’s twenty kilos but hey, that was half the fun. The two red reels would have been baited with half a piranha and thrown in to tempt the pirarara (red-tailed catfish) or the filhote (piraiba), while the large wooden reels with the lures and coloured line were used for catching tucunare (peacock bass). It took some effort whipping that lure across the water time and again, but it was worth it to catch a fish that fought and jumped once it was hooked. The smaller line with the steel leader was for catching piranhas. Now, I know what they say in these documentaries – that piranhas don’t frenzy unless the conditons are just right, but if you put a smal piece of meat on a hook and dropped it in the river, you could pull it out within a minute or less and have a piranha hanging on the end of it. And those buggers have got big teeth. The steel leader is there because those nasty little monsters bite through the line otherwise. Then we killed ’em and used them for baiting the big lines.

It’s difficult to get a sense of how big some of the hooks are, so I’ve put a Bic biro in there for a bit of persepctive. After all, we all know how big a Bic biro is, right? And that big mess of hooks? Well, you needed plenty of hooks because it wasn’t unusual to catch a fish big enough to break the line or for the hook to catch on underwater debris.

Oh, and there’s some of the fishing knives as well. You might be interested to know that the knife with the odd square-shaped blade was very flat and could be honed like a razor. The cowboys used to use them for castrating cattle, but they made good knives for cutting bait.


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