Another stirring tale from the banks of The River Wissey
An absolute peace ruled alongside the river. The autumn sun had just reached its peak and another beautiful afternoon was in being. Everything was a complete contrast to a few hours earlier. At daybreak a multi-chorus of bird song had been at full volume. A motley flotilla of assorted geese had also been resident and squabbled away and splashed in their familiar fashion. The many happy families of rabbits had been up all night and were now exhausted and tucked away in their hideaway holes. As for the 'ever-present' moorhen she was defying all prediction and was also missing. Everything was quiet to an extreme!
Despite the respite above the water within the river itself was a real busyness. From top to bottom was another complete world of nature. Fish big and small were crossing paths and going about their daily business. The shallow water was tepid to the touch following weeks of perfect weather and beams of sunlight pierced the depths like shining arrows. Alas it was unable to penetrate to the very bottom where all was dark and thick with weed.
This deepest level is the favourite territory of certain fish. It is so deep that the chill of winter remains for several months long after the ice and snow has passed and weeks of sunlight are needed to adjust the temperature a mere degree. The gloom and darkness attracts the numerous fat eels who wallow like pigs in the mud. Here large tench will soon bury themselves away for the entirety of winter to just sleep. It is also home and hearth to a fish of monster proportions!
Without question this giant commands this section of the river and is a carp of great age and time. She is slow and lethargic but has great wile and cunning. Most of her time is spent within the mass of cabbage weeds but according to her needs she also patrols the adjoining channels just to display her authority to all the other fish. Likewise on odd occasions she visits the margins but then only under the cover of darkness. Her huge tail propels her with uncanny stealth whilst her pectoral fins merely flicker to steer her with mathematical precision. With her dark colouring she resembles a huge submarine or similar. She has even been known to poke her head above the surface but then always at a distance from the bank and so she is seldom seen - let alone recognised. She is the Queen of the river.
Her history is little known but for certain she has been hooked several times during her long span although few anglers would have had any knowledge as to what and to whom they had connected with. Her power and strength invariably provides an immediate escape. Thus only a fortunate one or two have even witnessed her at close quarters. Those fishermen now guard the details with real secrecy (and besides their tale would never be believed!) Indeed if her existence and dimensions were to be made public this isolated stretch of the river Wissey would be overfished by people from near and far. The beauty and glory of the setting would soon be destroyed and so our friend the carp continues her life in relative peace. Meanwhile as time passes her size just gets bigger and bigger!
Thus a few disciples of the rod are forever fishing, and also praying, to successfully connect with this very same fish. Alas too much knowledge has now been given to the readers of this column but when you next see an apparently misguided fisherman alongside the river say in bad weather or at a strange time of night or day you may now understand the purpose of his endless quest.
By Ivor Hook