Above the Blackwater

You’ll never know what lies beneath if you don’t look, a man’s love for the river he grew up with. His strong arms cast the line to the other side of the fast-flowing river Blackwater. He gently coaxed the line back toward him hoping something might come with it. “Oh well “he thought to himself glimpsing around at the other fisherman, at least I’m not the only one getting the cold shoulder from the old foe, he smiled the old foe was actually his best friend. Every year when the season opened, the rods were readied, new bait prepared and old nets were repaired. The excitement was building, another year trying to outwit the mind of a fast-moving salmon who ducked and dived avoiding the dreaded lure to the best of its ability.
The Blackwater being tidal meant time was limited every day, Organisation was key, there was small window of opportunity. It was often my father said to me “In order to catch a fish, you must think like a fish, a fish must access a situation and plan his escape if needs be. A fish must at all times resist temptation, so it is up to me to find a bait that he simply cannot leave behind.
My father had his favourite place along the banks of the river where he would carefully set himself up for the day. Others might join the brigade of fisherman, with all eyes fixed on their own lures, waiting with bated breath, grips were tightened in anticipation of a tug of war, where the strongest would prevail.” A this is pointless “he thought, looking at the many rods fighting for position, giving fair warning to the sharp senses of what lay beneath. “I’ll slip away to a quieter where I can hear myself think”. With everything packed up he slipped away quietly, arriving at another one of his favourite spots, he took a deep breath and got down to business, the tide was right, the day was fine, and his favourite hat was perched perfectly on his head.
He cast the line out watching every ripple as he reeled it in, after half an hour casting and reeling time began to go against him, soon the tide would turn. “II have a couple more for the road, he thought, the thought hadn’t left his head when he felt a tug on his line, his eyes darted across the river to see his lure being pulled down the river. A tough battle was to follow, a little give, a little take, control switched between the two often, “This one is not getting away” he told himself. Twenty minutes of battle and the war was finally won.
Landing the prize catch into the recently repaired net, it was time to exhale. Locals gathered to congratulate and to capture the moment on camera. A record was set! Twenty-seven pounds. My father beamed, he looked into the river and whispered, “I’ll be back with the tide in the morning”.
In memory of my father James 1923 – 2018 who holds the record for the largest salmon caught on the river Blackwater by rod.