Caught by the River

Blue Hearts, Lonely Moons

Dexter Petley | 1st October 2007


peter sarstedt stole your baitbox. sandy denny just put him up to it. is that the desolate diana in the photo, or the last scene from planet of the carps? it sent the shivers through me, carp with glass eyes swim in there don’t they? bob’s mate had a 26, (or was it a 19 common?) with anal fin syndrome out of there last week. summer was dead on arrival here, and now its carcass is heaped in the fields and burning under a moon like a blood orange. i’ve piped a new stove into the caravan and fish with the LL bean mittens on soon as that sun plunges like the last R101, well before the french shopkeepers lock up now. the air smells of after-plough; first forest harvest in the wicker basket:

mushroom clouds on north east collision course put the cold slap on penelope pit and a couple of blanks had me on late nights in the r&d lab. sometimes you just have to take them by surprise by doing the obvious, so i stayed put in the double-30 swim when the fish were crashing on the opposite bank like bath time for aquaphobics. i tweaked the set-up to get more bleeps and last wednesday well into black-out an sos came through, this one was a zeppelin, armed to the pharangeal teeth and it went down to hand-to-hand as the wind sang through the line, a hired 40 on a no-win-no-fee mission:

paperwork and the yearly garden/barn and general tidy-up meant i missed the last chance waxing days and wednesday saw me heading for the pit through a wall of cold rain, the one thing the carp there despise. so i do too. cold piss on a full moon, so soon as i saw the pall of grey spounge over the eure valley i turned back, headed for home, avoided a straffing and got some proper kip for once. next day the clouds broke so i taxied the hurricane out of the barn again, fully armed from the day before, arriving at penelope as the sun rolled the pitch. north east wind barking like ridgebacks. a 3-rod day i thought, something i do in a blue moon, a lonely hearts way of fishing, but out the third rod went, into a 12foot hole in the wind. by 9 o clock the wind had got to me and a full moon was draped in flowing chiffon. the racket off the route nationale was what chainsaws are to rainforests, so i actually backtracked to the hurricane parked back of the swim to turn the radio on for a time check. it always works, that or a piss when you’ve hovered on the rods expectantly for hours: the left hand buzzer gave me three bleeps to the wind and i hit a good fish running. it’s on the mat after shooting out my auxilliaries, and i’m saying to myself could be another 40 here when the blue moon rod goes off in the hole. i hit that one and let it run on a tight clutch, came back and dealt with this one when, you’ve guessed it, you can see the red middle buzzer light in the picture, just come on by the carp’s nose before i’ve even time to lift it:

i’m on a hat trick with a possible upper-30 plus i’ve no time to weigh, two fish on collision course, more penelope madness:

the 3rd one’s way off in the night and the dogs lost the scent.
weekend was spent on autumn rituals; me and laure trimming and clearing the trees round my pond, cutting firewood and stringing the onions. this is hugely satisfying work. telling winter we’re ready. even the cat has got his fluffy leggings on, burying his shrews like a squirrel then digging them up when we’re looking, throwing them in the air like his own penelopes, even fooling himself they’re still alive, a moggy off the old block…
it’s days on half pay now, watching the skies, the oak apples thrashing my pond in bursts whenever a convoy of crucians glide under it. monday morning, no work’s come through, unsteady rain, and i think i’ll go roach fishing.

chestnuts on an open birdtable