"I'll have to come again," I said.
I didn't stop feeling guilty until I was 20 miles east and saw the first signpost for Drumshanbo. Then I realized the stupidity of apologizing for catching big pike.
As Pat and I dragged the boat down into the water, he said, "I hope you brought the plugs with you." I could see that the long process of converting the Irish had begun.
We fished blank for the first hour, then round a small complex of islands on the east shore we began to meet fish. By lunchtime we had boated seven good Allen pike. Secretly, though, I was hoping for the near impossible—a third trophy fish, to make three in three days.
Reading my thoughts, Pat said, "Wouldn't it be something to talk about if you got another big one?" I laughed deprecatingly. I was sure that voicing the wish would kill it stone dead.
Through the good hours of the afternoon we had no action, except when the smallest fish of the trip hung itself onto the Swedish plug. Slowly the light was beginning to fade, and the clouds were darkening over the Iron Mountain. "What about that funny-looking fella you showed me on Wednesday?" Pat asked.
"Is it this one?" I said, holding up the psychedelically colored Bump 'n' Grind.
"That's him," said Pat. "Give the Yankee bait a chance."
I snapped it on. We had maybe half an hour before the light went altogether. Skeins of gray geese passed over, calling like hounds in full cry. The wind had dropped. Pat picked up the dripping oars again, and we started to troll close in to the shore, where the bottom fell off steeply.
The rod tip checked, then came hard over. "This is the one," I said quite confidently to Pat. I could feel the weight in the fish.