Caught by the River

The Fisherman's Bedside Medicine

25th January 2011

In a need to shake off the anguish caused by too long an absence from the river bank I decided to live vicariously. These two pieces of angling poetry – which are taken from ‘B.B.’s treasure trove, ‘The Fisherman’s Bedside Book’ – brought only temporary relief, but in the hope of helping fellow sufferers we reprint them here. Me, I’ve booked next Wednesday off and I’m sticking to it this time.

From ‘Rod and Line’, by Arthur Ransome:
A true record of the life of a habitual carp fisher would be a book to set beside De Quincey’s Confessions of an Opium Eater, a book of taut nerves, of hallucinations, of a hypnotic state (it is possible to stare a float into invisibility) of visions, Japanese in character, of great blunt headed, golden fish, in golden spray, curving in the air under sprays of weeping willow, and then rare moments when this long-drawn-out tautness of expectation is resolved into a frenzy of action.

From ‘Mr. H.T. Sheringham’s Carp Classic’, by ‘B.B.’:
Though fine it was a decidedly cold evening, with a high wind; but this hardly affected the water, which is entirely surrounded by a high bank and a belt of trees. Nor was there much to occupy the attention except when some great fish would roll over in the weeds far out, obviously one of the big carp, but a hundred yards away. An occasional moorhen and a few rings made by small roach were the only signs of life. The black tip of my float about eight yards away, in the dearth of other interests began to have an almost hypnotising influence. A little after half-past eight this tip trembled and then disappeared and so intent was I on looking at it that my first thought was a mild wonder as to why it did that. Then the coiled line began to go through the rings, and I realised that here was a bite.