Last night I caught my first fish for three months. The longest hiatus from piscine escape that I have ever endured since first picking up a rod and reel. Apart from university, but there was plenty of beer consumed during that time, enough to make sure that particular period passed in a blur. I had taken myself to a delightful stretch of canal, just on the cusp of country, where the setting was one of open fields and stone cattle bridges more than huge stone slabs and towering mills. A glowing sun warmed the evening, though a brisk breeze reminded me still, that Summer had not yet fully sprung.
In the hope of snaring a big, lady perch, I fished with lures, exploring various lock cuttings and bramble overhangs, with a variety of different patterns. Just for a few minutes mind, before heading off to the next equally inviting spot, a few casts closer to my goal. Or so I hoped. I couldn’t tell you how long I had been there. Put simply; I was totally immersed. The familiar whirr of the bail arm, as it re-coiled line, a soothing sound missing for so long. The brief whoosh of the rod as I cast, and the resonant plop of the lure hitting water, both punctuated and comforted. A haze of layered bird song formed the perfect foundation for my own aural additions and not once did a moorhens’ shrill shriek startle.
When the lure was snatched, by some unseen monster, my eyes had never opened so wide. My whole body tensed. Smile, of course, unstoppable. As was the strike. A strike that had been there, nestled on the edge of a reflex, for a quarter of a year. Naturally, my heart beat faster as I reeled the fish in, a quick and powerful fighter it was too, but punching well above its weight. A perch, not much bigger than my hand, the perfect totem to welcome me back. The first fish of tens of thousands of people. Appreciated none the less because of this. It was perfect. In the late evening sun my perch’s subdued colours were made more radiant. What a proud looking fish they are.
And there it was. Everything I had missed. Everything I had been reliving during my time away. A discarded rod atop a wet landing net. An actual living fish clutched in my hand. Everything, all at once, the focus of much admiration. And for the first time, in what seemed like an eternity, I was at ease. I was where I belong.
Until next time,