Caught by the River


Dexter Petley | 6th February 2008


thanks for that buchaneering tale, nabbing a duke’s pike under flush winter sky from a punt, clapping butler and cooing maids. there should be tapestries and painted ceilings of stag party pike inside the dutchess’s boudoir. you know the old song of course, “pull out the stopper & lets have a whopper/get me to the bob church on time…” was the butler singing that?
pit fishing was just flushing lead down a hole last week. minus 7 sunday night, water tanks frozen even in sun. i put two baits out at 3 monday afternoon but by 4 the temperature was zero. sky streaked like a german raid on the docks at sunset. a fin nudged its reflection 30 yds off. numb toed, minus 2 before the blackbirds put their songsheets away.

i packed up as church bells rung up the start of the archers. chair frozen into the ground, pulled the skin away with it. line frozen in the rings, making the reel gears clunk. wednesday was identicle in blue:

this time an itchy run after dark, four stuttering bleeps. i struck ice. put the same bait in the same place as fish started rolling in the mist. my boots froze into the ground as i stood like a red guard outside the kremlin, brushing frost off my sleeve. cat ice forming on my teeth, findus written on the rucksack. yesterday it was back to mud and just raw. a bream hooked in the back, two bleeps in the only ten minutes of sun at 4 o clock. listened to the archers driving home. wednesday’s forecast is belting sun and 13 degrees. the wind is whipping the margins to froth in the bay as i speak, a wind in its twenty-fourth hour. wednesday’s carp is full of bait, they say. they’ll be butlers clapping, and rods a-looping, sure as g’s pike…

last of the few on the birdtable