Magazine article The Spectator

Fishy Business

Magazine article The Spectator

Fishy Business

Article excerpt

I'd been told that an enormous pike lived in our lake, but I'd never believed it - not even when someone claimed to have caught it and thrown it back. The lake in question is only about an acre in size and it's so murky that it's difficult to imagine anything living in it. Well, anything other than the swan mussels, whose shells we often find at the water's edge. If there was a pike what would it live on? `Oh, a pike will take a duckling,' Brian, the groundsman, explained to me through the library window. At his feet lay our not-so-phantom pike, three foot long with a great gash in its side.

Brian had found it washed up on the shore. I wonder whether this terrifying looking fish lived alone, like the Loch Ness Monster, or whether there are others? And even it was the only one it couldn't have lived just on ducklings. Our lake must be stuffed with fish. I suppose I should get a rod and find out. Not that I've ever had much luck with rods in the past. I tried catching brown trout in Scotland and never got a bite. But nor, as far as I recall, did anyone else that day. I suggested that the fluffy things we used for bait were far too boring and we should experiment by attaching sequins to them, but I was firmly slapped down. Apparently one is only allowed to catch fish in a certain way in this country.

I don't know why everything has to be turned into some dreary sport. If I were being generous I would say that the rules of fishing are there either to conserve fish, or to provide the most efficient means of catching fish, but actually I suspect that they are a way of making fishing exclusive.

I think I shall row into the middle of our lake and use the fishing method I used in Barbados. You just drop a line and hook with a piece of fish attached to it and wait until you feel a tug. The best thing about it is you don't know what you are going to pull out. …

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