A Fisherman’s Tale

I used to love this place, this little spot on the river, this white wooden bridge crossing the Marlow Wier on the Thames.  Do you know it?  Marlow I mean?  it’s a nice enough town, or at least it used to be, I have not been back for many years.  Go to Reading, get on a boat and it’s the second lock up river, it takes about an hour to get there on boat, so that’ll be ten minuets in the car.

My dad used to bring me fishing here when I was a kid. Yeah fishing, I love it.  It’s a great spot for perch, my second favorite fish.  You know it’s not as pretty as the Tench with it’s  red eyes and deep green and black scales, they don’t get as big as the tench does either, but the perch is a pretty fish in it’s own way.

A predator fish that can reach up to three pounds in weight, and it gives you a cracking good fight on light tackle, they really are greedy bastards. Green in colour, but lighter than the tench, with two or three vertical stripes going downwards from the dorsal fin in V’s.  If you pull the dorsal fin up, you know, to unfold it, you’ll see it’s spiked, yeah you have to handle perch with care, they have spiked gill covers too, well more spur like than spiked, but you know what I mean yeah?


I remember this one time, I thought I’d get some early morning fishing in on a Saturday morning.  I must have been ohh fifteen or so, I was used to fishing on my own by then, and my parents were used to me buggering off for sneaky little fish over the weekend, so it was cool, you know, gravy all around.

Anyway, I’d dug up some worms in the back garden the day before and had them saved in a half pint bait box in the fridge over night.  Mum didn’t mind, she knew there were worms or maggots or some fishing related live bait in there, and as long as the top didn’t come of the box it was all sweet.

So I rocked up that morning at about half five or something, the sun was just, poking it’s head above the horizon, the sky had a lovely orange glow about it, and the wind was not yet up, so the mist was still on the water, gently rolling over the banks. It reminded me of that naff old black and white film I saw once.  Macbeth, you know the witches cauldron, ‘bubble bubble, toil and trouble’, and all that.  Yeah just like that.

The bridge was hard to see in all that mist, white as it was, the bridge that is not the mist, but as I got nearer, the view got clearer, that’s the odd thing about mist innit.

About half way across the bridge I got my gear out, plonked my seat box down and tackled up.  The weir moves pretty fast you know, so it’s up to you, large float or ledger.  I couldn’t really see five foot in front of me so I opted for the ledger that time.

Ledger?  That’s just a small lead weight, clipped onto the line about a foot or so away from the hook, I bit on a small shot about an inch and a half away from the hook, so that the bait would float above the rivers bottom, hooked on a worm, thrice through the body, and cast out.

It was then that I slipped, bloody mist making the white gloss painted wooden boards slick with moisture, it was then that I drowned.

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Lee Douglas

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